NASA’s Hubble Telescope has been given a further lease of life, with a five-year extension to its glorious reconnaissance mission.
NASA has confirmed a $200m contract extension to Hubble’s current operations, taking it through to the summer of 2021. This will bring its total mission time up to over 31 years, should everything go according to plan.
The support includes products and services required to execute science system engineering, science ground system development, science operations, science research, grants management and public outreach support for Hubble and data archive support for missions in the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes.
The last time Hubble was upgraded was back in 2009, with its current work rate still impressively prolific. Yet the additional years added on to Hubble is perhaps a little surprising, given plans for the James Webb Space Telescope to be launched into space in two years’ time.
This telescope will be a marked upgrade on Hubble, meaning imagery even better than these stunning shots will eventually adorn our computer screens as the 2020s kick in.
Back in March, Hubble destroyed the cosmic distance record, successfully measuring the farthest-away galaxy ever seen in the universe.
When Hubble looks around our universe, it does so through a relative form of time travel. The further it looks away from us, the further it peers into our universe’s past.
So, by measuring GN-z11, a “surprisingly bright” infant galaxy at the edge of the universe, researchers used the telescope to leap farther back than ever.
In April, to celebrate its 26th birthday, we looked at Hubble’s best shots from down the years. Below are a few, but the whole series is worth a look.
Main Hubble image via Shutterstock