Hubble Telescope Celebrates 15th Birthday with Stunning Images
Fifteen years old this month, the Hubble Space Telescope showed off new images of the Whirlpool Galaxy and Eagle Nebula (see ESA press release). Engineers at JPL who built the WFPC-2 (Wide Field and Planetary Camera), the camera that took most of those famous images that adorn our walls and calendars, took great satisfaction today during a slide show of famous images and astronomical discoveries that Hubble has beamed to earth. Though built under time pressure and political pressure to save the Hubble from its original optical flaws, WFPC-2 was installed during a risky shuttle rescue operation right as planned, and has worked perfectly for 15 years – longer than any other part of the telescope.
Though Hubble usually takes the spotlight because its vision is like ours, two other space telescopes are filling in knowledge about the wings of the optical spectrum: Spitzer in the infrared, and GALEX in the ultraviolet.
Hubble is a great American success story that deserves far more press coverage than the usual daily retinue of crime stories and celebrity trials. HST has brought us not only knowledge and science, but art. Take this occasion to tour the Hubble Site and feast your eyes on things Galileo could not have dreamt of. Congratulations to all the Hubble team: the universe will never be the same in our eyes thanks to this wonderful true story of intelligent design.
PS: News@Nature reported the possibility that some stars may have planets made of diamond. Tell that to your kid after she sings Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and see if you can get a big-eyed Wow.