Happy 20th Birthday to the Hubble Space Telescope! While we should be showering HST with gifts, instead the telescope provides this present to us: an amazing view of what has been nicknamed “Mystic Mountain. ” It is just a small portion of one of the largest known star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula. Three light-year-tall towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The scene is reminiscent of Hubble’s classic “Pillars of Creation” photo from 1995, but even more striking. “Mystic Mountain has clouds of gas and dust, that have not only baby stars, but also baby solar systems,” said John Grunsfeld, Hubble-hugger, repairman and now the Deputry Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute. “4.5 billion years ago, this may be what our solar system looked like.”
Would you like to wish Hubble a happy birthday?
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Hubble fans worldwide are being invited to take an interactive journey with Hubble. They can also visit Hubble Site to share the ways the telescope has affected them. Follow the “Messages to Hubble” link to send an e-mail, post a Facebook message, or send a cell phone text message. Fan messages will be stored in the Hubble data archive along with the telescope’s science data. For those who use Twitter, you can follow @HubbleTelescope or post tweets using the Twitter hashtag #hst20.
Hubble launched on April 24, 1990.
“Hubble is undoubtedly one of the most recognized and successful scientific projects in history,” said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Last year’s space shuttle servicing mission left the observatory operating at peak capacity, giving it a new beginning for scientific achievements that impact our society.”
This morning during interviews on NASA TV, Grunsfeld and Weiler said they both felt fortunate to work with Hubble, a telescope who’s legacy will live on, no matter how much longer the telescope operates.
“I’m lucky to have worked on a project that will outlive me,” Weiler said.
“The discovery that I think is so incredible, and could not be imaged was that Hubble has now analyzed the constituents of an atmosphere of a planet around another star,” said Grunsfeld. “It is as if we were exploring that planet – and that’s what Hubble does for us, allows us to visit places we’ll never be able to go.”
On that note, take a 3-D trip into the Carina Nebula with the video below: