The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into Earth orbit on April 24, 1990, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. While that event is a fond memory for many of us, it is now a quarter of a century, 25 years, in the past. When I give talks to schools, it is sobering to remember that Hubble was launched before any of the current elementary, high school, and college students were born. They have never known a time when there wasn't a Hubble. All their lives, the telescope has been a fixture and symbol of astronomy.
For most scientific instruments, even ambitious and exceptional ones, their continued existence is scant cause for popular notice. Other billion-dollar projects, say, particle accelerators, note the passage of milestones without significant fanfare. However, Hubble's images and discoveries have permeated into the global consciousness to the point that we feel a bit of public revelry is worthy. Throughout all of 2015, we will be celebrating Hubble's 25th anniversary.
For my part, I have spent some significant time reviewing every Hubble press release ever created. Although I have been working on Hubble outreach for 14 years, I tried to take a fresh approach that would provide persepctive, context, and a flow of events across the decades. Most importantly, I wanted to identify the science story threads woven through the fabric of Hubble's many and diverse discoveries. There are so many great stories to tell. I'll be presenting some of them in this blog, and quite a number of other venues, over the coming weeks and months.
Some of my perspective on Hubble's remarkable history is presented in my public lecture from January 13, 2015. Entitled "25 Years of Hubble," the talk winds its way across the important events, ground-breaking discoveries, and astounding imagery of what is perhaps the most important telescope ever. Join me — and the rest of the Hubble team at the Space Telescope Science Intitute, at the Goddard Space Flight Center, across NASA, and at our European partner ESA — in this presentation, and throughout 2015, for a celestial silver celebration.