A Revolutionary Telescope

Hubble became a household word by expanding our knowledge of the cosmos and for its spectacular images. But the telescope also impacted our technologies, industries, and culture.

Quick Facts

The Hubble Telescope in space gripped by the space shuttle's robotic arm. One solar panel is deployed. The round rim of the window through which the picture was taken is visible.
Held by the space shuttle Discovery’s robotic arm, Hubble hovers over Earth during its deployment in April 1990. In this picture taken through a space shuttle window, Hubble has deployed one of its solar panels but has yet to extend the second.

Science Impacts

Seeing more, seeing farther, seeing deeper

Hubble's view from orbit unleashed a flood of cosmic discoveries that changed astronomy forever. From its explorations of dark matter to its quest to determine the age of the universe, Hubble has helped answer some of the most compelling astronomical questions of our time.

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Field is filled with galaxies in colors of white, yellow, blue-white, and red; all on a black background.
Hubble's launch and deployment in April 1990 marked the most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo's telescope. Thanks to five servicing missions and more than 30 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place within it has never been the same. Deep fields, including the Hubble Ultra Deep Field 2014 seen here, are examples of Hubble images that have had profound impact on our understanding of the cosmos.
NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech); A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University) and Z. Levay (STScI)

Cultural Impact

Putting the stars in “starstruck”

Hubble and its images have become a part of our cultural landscape, appearing in film, music, art and much more. From tattoos to television and shirts to stamps, Hubble is woven into the fabric of daily life.

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Leonardo Dicaprio in a sound room recording the narration for a Hubble movie.
Three-time Academy-Award® nominee Leonardo DiCaprio records narration for the IMAX® 3D space film, Hubble 3D.
Warner Bros.
Hubble images are mounted on the wall over sculptures and between classical pillars at the Walters Art Musuem.
"Mapping the Cosmos: Images from the Hubble Space Telescope," brings together over 20 Hubble images as part of the Walters Art Museum exhibit "Maps: Finding Our Place in the World." The exhibit was created through a unique collaboration between the Walters, scientists and experts at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and Professor Elizabeth Rodini and her students in the "Behind the Scenes at the Walters Art Museum" class at Johns Hopkins University.
NASA, ESA, The Walters Art Museum, Zolt G. Levay (STScI)

Technology Benefits

From capturing visions of space to improving life on the ground

Scientists and engineers have created a wealth of new technology for Hubble, both while it was being built and to further its mission. Many of these advances found applications on Earth.

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A skater wearing a red and black uniform with USA emblazoned on it in white letters skates across a rink. She wears googles and a close-fitting black hat.
U.S. speed skater Chris Witty wins gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Chris' skates were sharpened with a tool that was inspired by mirror-polishing techniques used to produce high-quality optics for Hubble and other NASA observatories. Innovations made to improve Hubble's vision and longevity often made their way into earthly technology.
Nathan Blow Photography / Crawford Family U.S. Olympic Archives, USOC

This same technology developed especially for Hubble is as we speak being used in clinics and hospitals across this country in a new breast biopsy system in a high-tech war on breast cancer.

David Leckrone

Former Hubble Senior Project Scientist

Impact on Human Spaceflight

Improving the way humans work in space

The lessons learned from Hubble’s missions have gone on to influence human spaceflight and alter the way people work in the airless, gravity-free environment beyond our planet’s boundaries.

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An astronaut on the end of the robotic arm with numerous tools. The blue earth is in the background
Servicing Mission 3A astronaut Steven Smith retrieves the Pistol Grip Tool, which was developed to make servicing Hubble easier and is now a standard tool for space tasks.
An astronaut in a spacesuit holds aloft a tool resembling a pair of pliers in front of a device covered with wires and connectors. Earth is visible in the background.
Astronaut John Grunsfeld holds aloft the High-Torque Connector Tool, used to reach the tightly packed fasteners on Hubble's Power Control Unit (PCU) in orbit. Grunsfeld had to disconnect and reattach 36 cable bundles on the unit during Servicing Mission 3B. The tool was designed to make the task easier while wearing bulky spacesuit gloves.

Astronomical Community Impacts

Changing the rules of astronomy

Hubble has transformed the way astronomy happens, expanding horizons on Earth even as it broke boundaries in the heavens.

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A packed field of galaxies and curved blue streaks and arcs. Bright blue-white foreground star at bottom right.
Abell 370 is a cluster with several hundred galaxies at its core. It was part of the Frontier Fields project to use the combined power of natural gravitational lenses and Hubble's ability to create long-exposure deep field images to see galaxies that would normally be beyond the reach of telescopes.
NASA, ESA, J. Lotz, and the HFF Team (STScI)

Highlights from Hubble's first 30 years

Cosmic Reef (2020)
For over 30 years, Hubble has captured our imagination with stunning images. Look through some of the historic and anniversary images, one for each of the first 30 years in orbit.
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