Blog: Today is Hubble Space Telescope & Socorro Incident Anniversary

by Martin Willis

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Although one has little to do with the other, we are celebrating two anniversaries today.

Socorro’s 51st

It’s the 51st anniversary of the Socorro incident with Lonnie Zamora, and our last guest Ray Stanford spoke about this in our podcast the other day. I believe this particular case will go down in history as one that is very credible, as it was very well documented at the time by Ray himself and others. Read more here. 

Hubble’s 25th

It’s the 25th anniversary of the launching of the Hubble Space Telescope. With all of all the thousands of images that this orbiting telescope has brought to us, it’s one of the most important pieces of hardware we’ve ever created as far as space exploration is concerned.

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The most compelling image to me is the deep field images. If you take a tennis ball and hold it 100 meters away, it would give you an idea of how tiny an area the images were taken in. The image we know was assembled from 342 separate exposures taken with the Space Telescope’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 over ten consecutive days between December 18 to December 28, 1995.

Nasa was going to launch the Hubble in 1986 when on 28 January of that year, the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing its crew of seven. The incident grounded the shuttle launches for about three years. Finally the Hubble was launched on April 24, 1990.

h03_hs201013To the disappointment of all, a minor flaw in a mirror contour created blurry images. It took awhile to fix and in 1993 John Trauger’s replacement mirror was installed with great success ever since.  

The telescope will be replaced in 2018 by Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), but what a legacy the Hubble has left us. Consider for a moment what it would be like if this particular telescope was never launched, we’d still be in the dark in many ways.