It’s one of the most productive scientific instruments ever built, and a prime example of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. Launched in 1990, it was originally designed to last 15 years.
Ten years after the end of its predicted lifespan, the Hubble Space Telescope continues to send back images of faraway stars and galaxies in the universe, and of planets in our own solar system, all from its orbit 350 miles above the Earth. Astronomers all over the world have used Hubble to observe 38,000 celestial objects, and have used Hubble data in more than 11,000 published scientific papers.
To kick off the Hubble Space Telescope’s 25th anniversary in 2015, NASA and ESA have released two new images. The first revisits the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula, first published in 1995 and one of Hubble’s most famous images.
The second depicts a portion of the Andromeda galaxy, which at 2.5 million light-years away is the nearest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way. It took over three years for Hubble to acquire the thousands of images that were stitched together to produce a single composite image. The full composite image is 1.5 billion pixels in size and users can zoom in to view many of the 100 million stars in it individually.