To celebrate properly three decades of the space telescope, Cité de l’espace and UPS in Space have gathered accounts from people who worked on Hubble or its data. Find them in this article.
On 24 April 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope took off aboard the Discovery Space Shuttle (Mission STS-31). The next day, it was placed in orbit and for 30 years it has been revolutionising astronomy. You can relive these three decades in seven interviews. At the end of the article, we present Cosmic Reef to you, the anniversary image unveiled on 24 April 2020.
30 Years of Hubble in 7 Interviews
To celebrate the anniversary of this programme which brings together NASA and the European Space Agency, Cité de l’espace organised an online event with the UPS in Space Association, with interviews from two astronauts (Drew Feustel and Jean- François Clervoy) who took part in maintenance missions for the space telescope, two astronomers who use Hubble’s data (Roser Pello and Thierry Contini), an engineer who worked on one of the first instruments on the orbiting observatory (Pierre Hollier), a Ph.D. student who explains the image processing (Claire Guilloteau), not forgetting a message from NASA’s European representative (Tim Tawney).
You can find them all below. Accounts which help us understand the importance of the Hubble Space telescope.
NASA’s astronaut, Drew Feustel has recorded a message specially for this celebration. He was part of the crew of the STS-125 mission of the Atlantis Shuttle in 2009, the last service mission for the Space telescope.
Astrophysicist Thierry Contini revisits the contribution of Hubble to the study of galaxies. He also explains that the Earth-based observatories and Hubble are not in competition, but complement each other. He takes, for example, the MUSE instrument (European VLT telescope in Chile) on which he works and which complements data acquired by Hubble with its own.
Astrophysicist Roser Pello explains how Hubble has enabled us to study the first galaxies which formed shortly after the Big Bang. The space telescope also prompted a new way of working based on collaboration between scientists on shared projects.
With a repair mission in 1999 (Mission STS-103), Jean-François Clervoy, ESA astronaut, is one of those who have worked up close with Hubble. For us, he revisits this incredible mission and the importance of the telescope in the history of astronomy and its advances.
Engineer Pierre Holier worked on the FOC camera (Faint Object Camera), one of the original main instruments of Hubble and an important contribution from ESA (European Space Agency) to the space telescope programme.
NASA’s Representative in Europe, Tim Tawney recalls the major and many contributions of the Hubble space telescope in the scientific field, as well as the technological field, highlighting some examples of applications on Earth.
Ph.D. student Claire Guilloteau explains how the images are obtained from the Hubble Space telescope: the raw data has indeed to be processed to make the spectacular photographs we know. She also presents JWST, often called Hubble’s “successor.”
Cosmic Reef: the 30th Anniversary Image
For each of its anniversaries, Hubble has offered a spectacular image of the sky. For its 30th Anniversary, it turned to the nebulae catalogued as NGC 2014 and NGC 2020. They are 163,000 light years from us, in a dwarf satellite galaxy of our own galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. The video below is a close-up of this image called Cosmic Reef.
What do we see in this image? First of all, the immense red nebula is NGC 2014, an area where stars are formed. Here, future suns are born, very probably later with their own cortege of planets. Below on the left, the “sky blue flower” is NGC 2020, a gas cloud ejected by a star 200,000 times brighter than our Sun.
Happy Anniversary Hubble!
The Hubble 30th Anniversary event was organised by Cité de l’espace and the Astronomy association, UPS in SPACE, in partnership with NASA, ESA, AMIS DE LA CITE, NEPTUNION 31 and with the involvement of LAM/CNRS-INSU/University of Aix-Marseille, IRAP/OMP/CNRS/University Toulouse III, IRAP/IRIT/OMP/INP-ENSEEIHT.