Over the last few years, however, the Hubble telescope has made these things considerably easier. Initially launched in April 1990, Hubble is responsible for some of the biggest space discoveries in recent memory. It’s helped calculate the universe’s age, provided incredible information about dark matter, and discovered two of Pluto’s moons. Hubble’s also well-known for capturing jaw-dropping photos of outer space. From beautiful nebulae to faraway galaxies, Hubble’s provided a first-row seat to the universe unlike anything else.
Related: How Long Will The James Webb Space Telescope Last? Here’s What We Know
What makes all of this even more impressive is that Hubble is still in space and actively working. Despite being over 30 years old at the time of publication, Hubble continues making critical observations as astronomers keep studying everything that lies beyond Earth. NASA has had to launch five Servicing Missions over the years to perform critical repairs on the telescope. These missions saw astronauts correct flaws with Hubble’s primary mirror, replace solar panels, and install new instruments. Thanks to NASA’s continued work on Hubble, it’s still fully operational today — and should remain that way for a while to come.
Hubble Should Keep Working For Years To Come
Not only is Hubble still in space and working right now, but NASA anticipates it’ll continue to do so for a few more years. It’s currently believed that Hubble should remain operational until 2030 or 2040. The telescope’s already far-surpassed the original 15-year life expectancy, so any additional time from here on out is just icing on the cake.
And when Hubble does eventually fall back to Earth, humanity won’t be left without a telescope for exploring space. The James Webb Space Telescope — Hubble’s successor — successfully launched into space on December 25, 2021. It’s expected to begin operations in Summer 2022 and should also last a long time. While James Webb was originally planned to last 10 years, NASA now believes it’ll be in orbit “for significantly more than a to-year science lifetime.”
If anything, this goes to show how much work NASA and its partner organizations put into their creations. Creating a telescope that can make incredible observations about the universe is one thing. Creating one that can make those observations for over 30 years is mind-blowing. Hubble is nearing its final years of duty, but for now, it’s still hanging out in space and being just as awesome as it’s always been.