On this day, the Hubble Space Telescope is placed in orbit by the U.S. space shuttle Discovery. The space telescope, conceived in the 1940s, designed in the 1970s, and built in the 1980s, was designed to give astronomers an unparalleled view of the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe.
Initially, Hubble’s operators suffered a setback when a lens aberration was discovered, but a repair mission by space-walking astronauts in 1993 successfully fixed the problem.
Free of atmospheric distortions, Hubble has a resolution 10 times that of ground-based observatories. Among its many astronomical achievements, Hubble has been used to record a comet’s collision with Jupiter, provide a direct look at the surface of Pluto, view distant galaxies, gas clouds, and black holes, and see billions of years into the universe’s past.