M100 WFPC1, WFPC2, WFC3
Hubble's Improving Vision Since the First Servicing Mission 25 Years Ago
The celebration of the 25th anniversary of NASA's first astronaut mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit marks a pivotal moment for the telescope and for astronomy. The mission restored the scientific power of the telescope and enabled remarkable discoveries which will continue into the future.
These three images are of the central region of the magnificent spiral galaxy M100, taken with three generations of cameras that were sequentially swapped out aboard the telescope, and document the consistently improving capability of the observatory.
The image on the left was taken with the Wide Field/Planetary Camera 1 in 1993. The photo is blurry due to a manufacturing flaw (called spherical aberration) in Hubble's primary mirror. Celestial images could not be brought into a single focus.
The middle image was taken in late 1993 with Wide Field/Planetary Camera 2 that was installed during the December 2 – 13 space shuttle servicing mission (SM1, STS-61). The camera contained corrective optics to compensate for the mirror flaw, and so the galaxy snapped into sharp focus when photographed.
The image on the right was taken with a newer instrument, Wide Field Camera 3, that was installed on Hubble during the space shuttle servicing mission 4 in May 2009.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of NASA's first space servicing mission to Hubble, these comparison photos of one of the telescope's first targets are being released today.