Hubble Telescope 25th Anniversary: NASA Celebrates Milestone With Stunning Photos

Patricia Didelot

The Hubble Telescope is celebrating its 25th anniversary in space and NASA is marking the milestone with the release of the most amazing photos the giant apparatus has delivered during a quarter of a century.

Hubble was finally launched into low Earth orbit on board the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, after a delay of seven-years due to technical issues, budget problems, and the Challenger disaster. Once the telescope was in orbit, scientists discovered the main mirror was grounded incorrectly, compromising the Hubble's capabilities. A servicing mission in 1993 repaired the problem.

The Hubble Telescope, which is the size of a school bus, is the only of its kind designed to be serviced by astronauts in space. Following the 1990 launch, four other Space Shuttle missions repaired, replaced, and upgraded the telescope's systems. A fifth mission was scratched following the Columbia disaster.

In 2009, the last mission to repair Hubble was launched, after fierce debate at NASA. The space agency estimates the telescope could function until 2020, when its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope is expected to be in orbit.

After all the servicing missions were completed the Hubble Telescope has sent some astonishing images back to Earth. The photos help scientists understand the environment and allow the general public to appreciate the majestic scenes formed by stars and other celestial bodies.

All the photos are provided by NASA and have been taken from the Hubble Telescope in the past 25 years.

Since being launched 25 years ago, Hubble Telescope has traveled around the Earth 137,000 times and captured stunning photos of 38,000 space objects, which has led NASA to call it the "most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo's telescope" (in the 1600s), according to CNet. Hubble has also been instrumental in updating astronomy textbooks.

To view more stunning photos on Hubble Telescope's 25th anniversary go to the NASA website.

[Image via Hubble Telescope/NASA]