Hubble is the first major optical telescope in space. Above the distortion of the atmosphere, far above clouds and light pollution, Hubble has an unobstructed view of the universe. Scientists have used Hubble to observe exoplanets, distant stars and galaxies as well as the planets in our solar system.
Hubble launched on April 24, 1990, aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The space telescope observes the universe in near-ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared light. Over the years, Hubble's breakthrough discoveries have revolutionized nearly all fields of astronomy and astrophysics. Among Hubble's landmark accomplishments include making the deepest views ever taken of the evolving universe, finding planet-forming disks around nearby stars, chemically probing the atmospheres of exoplanets, identifying the first supermassive black hole in the heart of a neighboring galaxy, and providing evidence of an accelerating universe, propelled perhaps by some unknown source of energy in the fabric of space.
Hubble orbits Earth above the atmosphere, which distorts and blocks the light that reaches our planet, gives it a view of the universe that typically far surpasses that of ground-based telescopes.
Hubble is one of NASA's most successful and long-lasting science missions, beaming hundreds of thousands of images back to Earth.
Every 97 minutes, Hubble completes a spin around Earth, moving at the speed of about five miles per second (8 km per second) — fast enough to travel across the United States in about 10 minutes. As it travels, Hubble's mirror captures light and directs it into its several science instruments.
In another first for Hubble, astronomers used it to detect helium in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system. The discovery of helium in WASP-107b’s atmosphere demonstrated the ability to use infrared spectra to study exoplanet extended atmospheres.