It’s arguably the most powerful scientific instrument ever created, adept at inspecting exploding stars and glimpsing billions of years back in time. Yet the Hubble Space Telescope is really just a giant orbiting lens, only as good as the camera within. This month, astronauts will deliver an even better internal eye, the Advanced Camera for Surveys. The upgrade will allow Hubble to operate 10 times more quickly. Here is a brief history of the telescope that changed the way we think about the universe.
HUBBLE IN FOCUS
Hubble launches with a warped primary mirror, effectively rendering the telescope useless.
With a set of corrective lenses, Hubble finally peers into the universe.
Two new instruments give the telescope the power to see nearly all types of light.
The crew of the space shuttle Discovery repairs all six of Hubble’s worn gyroscopes, parts critical to keeping the satellite stabilized.
A new camera will make Hubble 10 times more powerful.
373 miles: Distance between Earth and Hubble’s orbit
**1.7 billion **: Estimated miles Hubble has traveled in orbit
97 minutes: Time it takes Hubble to circle Earth
350,000: Estimated number of pictures Hubble has taken
15 gigabytes: Amount of data Hubble delivers to astronomers each day