The Hubble is one of the most complex space telescopes ever launched. It has recently undergone major surgery but astronomers have declared it completely rejuvenated and have now released the first new images from the 19 year old observatory.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., had the honor of unveiling the images of the observations from four of Hubble's six operating science instruments at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
"Topping the list of new views are colorful, multi-wavelength pictures of far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster, an eerie 'pillar of creation,' and a 'butterfly' nebula," said NASA's press release.
Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters said, "This marks a new beginning for Hubble. The telescope was given an extreme makeover and now is significantly more powerful than ever, well-equipped to last into the next decade."
Senator Mikulski, chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NASA called Hubble "the people's telescope," saying, "it constantly rewrites the science textbooks and it has more discoveries than any other science mission."
Two new instruments, the Wide Field Camera 3 and Cosmic Origins Spectrograph were added, making the telescope more sensitive to light improving Hubble's observing efficiency significantly.
What resemble dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas is tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour, fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon in 24 minutes.
For the past three months, scientists and engineers at the Space Telescope Science Institute and Goddard have been focusing, testing, and calibrating the instruments of the Hubble but were delayed briefly July 19 to observe Jupiter in the aftermath of a collision with a suspected comet says the release.
The telescope will now be back to work full time with many observations on the agenda. There is even an ambitious plan to take the deepest ever near-infrared portrait of the universe to reveal never-before-seen infant galaxies that existed when the universe was less than 500 million years old.
The Hubble Space Telescope is an international project between NASA and the European Space Agency.
This image of barred spiral galaxy NGC 6217 is the first image of a celestial object taken with the newly repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The camera was restored to operation during the STS-125 servicing mission in May to upgrade Hubble.