Hubble Space Telescope

Since its 1990 launch, the Hubble Space Telescope has changed our fundamental understanding of the universe.

active Mission

Throughout the history of science, revolutionary instruments propel our understanding with their landmark discoveries. The Hubble Space Telescope is a testament to that concept. Its design, technology and serviceability have made it one of NASA's most transformative observatories. From determining the atmospheric composition of planets around other stars to discovering dark energy, Hubble has changed humanity's understanding of the universe.

Mission Type

Space Telescope

Destination

Low Earth Orbit

Launch

APR 24, 1990

Objective

Understand the Universe

A New View of the Universe

How did a telescope become a household name and change how we look at the cosmos forever?

With over 1.5 million observations and 20,000+ papers published on its discoveries, Hubble is the most productive science mission in the history of NASA. Yet the story of Hubble’s success starts before NASA even existed. It includes adversity, human ingenuity, heroic spacewalks, risk taking, and discovery. Learn the background of one NASA’s most famous missions.

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Hubble as seen from space shuttle
Astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis snapped a still photo of the Hubble Space Telescope after it was grappled by the shuttle's Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System during Servicing Mission 4. The mission left the telescope at the peak of its scientific capabilities, allowing it to continue furthering our knowledge of the cosmos.
NASA

Science, Technology, Culture: Hubble's Growing Legacy

From cultural touchstone to technological influencer, Hubble has left its mark on Earth

Hubble science has rewritten astronomy textbooks as its discoveries continually provide deeper explanations of astronomical objects and unveil new phenomena. But science isn’t the only way Hubble has impacted our world. From image detectors that are now used in the fight against breast cancer to science images that are used in Hollywood blockbuster movies, Hubble is embedded in our everyday lives and pop culture.

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The Hubble Telescope in space gripped by the space shuttle's robotic arm.
Held by the space shuttle Discovery’s robotic arm, Hubble is unfurling its solar arrays as it hovers over Earth during its deployment in April 1990. The technology in Hubble and in its ground system has been used for numerous other benefits down here on Earth.
NASA

Discovering the Unimagined

Hubble has not only furthered our knowledge of the known universe, it's shocked the astronomical world with never-before-seen phenomena.

When Hubble was launched, no planets around other stars had been discovered, Pluto had only one known moon, and dark energy was not even a concept. With over three decades of observations, Hubble has changed humanity’s understanding of the universe. We now know that black holes exist at the center of almost all galaxies, Jupiter’s massive storm – the Great Red spot – is now shrinking, light can echo just like sound, and the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. Learn about Hubble’s great discoveries, understand the basics behind Hubble’s scientific capabilities, and explore its incredible images of the cosmos.

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a packed field of galaxies and curved blue streaks
Abell 370 is a massive galaxy cluster whose immense gravity distorts and magnifies the light of galaxies behind it. Hubble has used it to push its vision beyond its usual capabilities and see even farther galaxies. Such capabilities have allowed Hubble to change our understanding of all aspects of astronomy.
NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz and the HFF Team (STScI)

An Observatory for the Ages

Even after three decades in the harsh environment of space, Hubble is still at the peak of its scientific capability

Designed and built in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Hubble has far surpassed its 15-year life expectancy and produced science never thought possible at the time of its launch. Learn about Hubble’s unique design, the human spaceflight missions that have extended its life, and the ground operations that keep it as productive as ever.

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Photograph of the Hubble Space Telescope over the earth
This image of the Hubble Space Telescope was taken at the end of the final space shuttle servicing mission to the observatory in May 2009. Hubble's design for servicing, and the operations process on the ground, has allowed Hubble to continually amaze the world with incredible images and new scientific breakthroughs.
NASA

What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday?

Hubble explores the universe 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That means it has observed some fascinating cosmic wonder every day of the year, including on your birthday.

Check Out Your Birthday!
Hubble Nebula - Orion Nebula

More Hubble Online Activities

Faint band of stars, gas, and dust stretches from left to right across the frame. This band is a representation of our galaxy as seen from space, edge-on. Colorful icons representing the types of objects Hubble has observed litter the frame: blue stars, orange spiral for galaxies, pink clouds for nebulae, yellow swirling top for exotic objects, and a green circle for exoplanets.

Get a Hubble's-eye-view of cosmic objects

An astronaut stands in front of a background of a nebula against a deep field of galaxies. The words "Name That Nebula" hovers above.

Match nebulae with their names

Photograph of Hubble orbiting the Earth

Virtually Tour Hubble in orbit

A title slide that says "astronaut Fun Facts"

Play this trivia game and test your knowledge!

360 image of Hubble's "Space Telescope Operations Control Center" The image is stretched because it is designed for 360 degree viewing. The image shows many desks within the control center with data on their screens.

Take a virtual tour of Hubble's operations center

Hubble Images



Featured Story

Hubble Finds Weird Home of Farthest Fast Radio Burst

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have found a rare event in an oddball place. It’s called a fast radio…

Read the Story

Hubble's Cosmic Collisions

From January 22 to February 2, 2024, Hubble shared new images and videos about interacting galaxies.

Near the top center of the image, a galaxy full of bright blue stars shines. To its lower left is a spiral galaxy, also full of blue stars and dark brown dust. Other distant galaxies and stars fill the black background of space.

Hubble Observes an Askew Galaxy Coaxing Star Formation from its Partner 

Arp 300 consists of two galaxies in a gravitational dance.

Top: a distorted spiral galaxy. One of its spiral arms extends in a sweeping arc below the galaxy. Below this spiral is another edge-on galaxy extending from the lower left toward image center.

Galaxy Mergers: Past and Present

Dr. Jennifer Wiseman explains galaxy mergers and their role in shaping cosmic landscapes.

A glowing pink point of light with diffraction spikes is surrounded by dark dust and faint stars. Two yellowish points of light are visible above and below it, all against black space dotted with intermittent distant galaxies.

Hubble Glimpses a Bright Galaxy Group

This image of LEDA 60847 combines ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared data from Hubble. 

Two side-by-side galaxies fill the image. The leftmost galaxy is a bright spiral galaxy bursting with blue stars. The rightmost is a lenticular galaxy, emitting a hazy glow. Distant stars and galaxies dot the background.

Hubble Spies Side-by-Side Galaxies

A barred spiral galaxy and a lenticular galaxy come together to create this interacting pair known as Arp 140. 

Two side-by-side galaxies fill the image. The leftmost galaxy is a bright spiral galaxy bursting with blue stars. The rightmost is a lenticular galaxy, emitting a hazy glow. Distant stars and galaxies dot the background.

Sonification of Arp 140

Arp 140 is a pair of interacting galaxies. The sonification takes data from this image and represents it with sound.

A galaxy laced through with dark brown dust is viewed edge-on, shining against black space dotted with more distant galaxies. The central galaxy has a hazy bridge of faint stars extending down through the bottom of the image.

Hubble Captures a Faint Bridge of Stars

A faint 250,000-light-year-long bridge of stars and gas stretches between two galaxies in Arp 295.

The lower half of the image is filled with a large spiral galaxy that has a bright white bar of stars at its center. To its upper left, a smaller galaxy shines with bright blue stars. It has an irregular shape, appearing almost like a vertical bar of stars. The rest of the image shows black space interspersed with more distant galaxies and stars.

Hubble Studies a Sparkling Galaxy Pair

The pair lies some 180 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici.

Two galaxies merge, a larger one at the top of the image and a smaller one below it. Both galaxies glow with a yellowish center, have rings of pink and bluish-white stars around them, and are connected by a large cloud of dust, brown, red, and pink.

Hubble’s Inside The Image: Antennae Galaxies

The Antennae Galaxies are interacting galaxies entangled in a cosmic dance. Dr. Jennifer Wiseman explains this breathtaking image.

A glowing, white galaxy shines at the center of the image, interlaced with dark brown dust. More distant galaxies and stars fill the black background of space.

Hubble Spies a Spinning Spiral

ESO 420-G013 is a face-on spiral galaxy and a Seyfert galaxy.

Two galaxies interacting that look like mice with tails.

Sonification of the Mice Galaxies

The Mice are interacting galaxies that will eventually merge. The sonification takes data from this image and represents it with sound.

A massive spiral galaxy fills the lower left of the image. Spiral arms full of dark brown dust and bright blue stars extend out from the yellow galactic core, all against black space dotted with more distant galaxies and stars.

Hubble Observes a Galactic Distortion

NGC 5427 is part of the galaxy pair called Arp 271.

A scattered grouping of blue and violet stars shines near the lower half of the image. Distant galaxies fill the black background of space, and bright stars with diffraction spikes are visible throughout.

Hubble Captures a Suspected Galaxy Encounter

UGC 3912 is classified as a spiral galaxy … but you wouldn’t know it from this detailed Hubble image. 

A bright, purplish galaxy glows at the image’s center, with blue stars interspersed and a blue-white haze extending outward, all against black space dotted with stars and distant galaxies.

Hubble Sees a Merged Galaxy

ESO 185-IG013 is a type of compact galaxy that shows an intense burst of star formation.

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