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This Week in Science History: Launch of the Hubble Telescope

On April 24, 1990, the Hubble telescope was launched into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. The telescope carried five instruments: The Wide Field/Planetary Camera, the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph, the Faint Object Camera, the Faint Object Spectrograph and the High Speed Photometer. The Hubble is a telescope that orbits Earth and is positioned above the atmosphere. This position distorts and blocks the light that reaches Earth and gives  a view of the universe that typically surpasses the view of a ground-based telescope. The Hubble Telescope revealed the age of the universe to be about 13 to 14 billion years, giving a more accurate range than the previous range of between 10 to 20 billion years. In addition, the Hubble Telescope had a key role in the discovery of dark energy. The telescope has captured galaxies in all stages of evolution, most prominently toddler galaxies that were around when the universe was still young. This has helped scientists in understanding how galaxies form. It found protoplanetary disks (clumps of gas and dust around young stars, likely function as birthing grounds for new planets) and gamma-ray bursts. More than 10,000 scientific articles have been published based on Hubble data.

Read more at: http://hubblesite.org/the_telescope/hubble_essentials/