The Hubble Space Telescope has passed a remarkable milestone, as it has been operating for more than a billion seconds now. The telescope was deployed from Space Shuttle Discovery on April 25, 1990, and has been in operation for more than 31 years since then.
“On January 1, 2022, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope officially passed the one billion second mark,” NASA recently wrote Update, “Hubble’s first one billion seconds involved five astronaut servicing missions to replace and repair telescope components, and more than 1.5 million scientific observations and counting! We can only imagine which one in the next one billion seconds.” Discoveries will bring about new telescopes such as the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope and the future Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope builds on Hubble’s discoveries and works closely with Hubble to expand our understanding of the universe . “
Hubble has had some trouble lately, as it had to shut down science operations twice in 2021 to deal with glitches. The first was a problem with its computer hardware that was fixed by switching to backup hardware – fortunately, Hubble backs up almost all of its hardware so they can be used if anything goes wrong with the primary system. The second issue involved a synchronization problem between the science instruments and the computer that caused the telescope to go into safe mode. The Hubble team was able to turn the instruments back on one at a time and no such problems have been observed since.
Hubble has made important scientific observations during his tenure and continues to produce beautiful pictures and important data. However, it’s also old hardware and it won’t last forever. The recent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope marks the beginning of a new era, in which this observatory serves as Hubble’s successor. But James Webb operates primarily in infrared wavelengths, unlike Hubble which operates primarily in visible light wavelengths.
So for now, Hubble will continue working to collect stunning images of space for both research purposes and the public’s pleasure.