The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit and transmitted the first photographs from space this date in 1990. It remains in operation. Although not the first space telescope, Hubble is one of the largest and most versatile, and is well known as both a vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy. The telescope is named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, and is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Hubble’s four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, ultraviolet, visible and near infrared spectra. Hubble’s orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere allows it to take extremely high-resolution images, with substantially lower background light than ground-based telescopes. Hubble has recorded some of the most detailed visible light images ever, allowing a deep view into space and time. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe.