Hubble’s Legacy

The Hubble Space Telescope (Hubble) has many legacies. There is a rich scientifi legacy (the wealth of astronomical information it has added and continues to add to our store of knowledge about the universe); a cultural legacy (our new vision of the universe and the menagerie of fantastic things that exist within it, beyond any comprehensible scale or human reference, but still somehow brought within our grasp); and a technological legacy. Additionally it is the fist telescope in space that has been repeatedly visited for repair and for improvement.

That Hubble could be visited repeatedly made it diffrent from all other telescopes heretofore placed into orbit. It was not the fist to be serviced. The Solar Maximum Mission (SMM) in the late 1980s, and certainly the solar telescopes aboard the Apollo Telescope Mount connected to the Skylab space station in the early 1970s, were visited and operated during their lifetimes in space. The SMM, in fact, was rejuvenated as well, but the extent of the transformation made possible by successive visits to Hubble was far more signifcant, vastly increasing and broadening its capabilities to observe the universe.

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This book is, therefore, an anthology of what have been personal journeys of major participants in one of the most signifiant scientifi quests of the twentieth and twenty-fist centuries.