Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

What did space look like on the day you were born? Here's how to find out

A new Nasa website lets users see through the lens of the Hubble Telescope to mark its 30th birthday

This image of the Carina Nebula Pillars, cosmic pinnacles within a tempestuous nursery of infant stars, was taken on February 1, 2010. Courtesy Nasa
This image of the Carina Nebula Pillars, cosmic pinnacles within a tempestuous nursery of infant stars, was taken on February 1, 2010. Courtesy Nasa

The Hubble Space Telescope has been orbiting the Earth for almost three decades, collecting images of planets, stars and galaxies.

The telescope will mark its 30th birthday on Friday, April 24, after first being launched into the atmosphere in 1990.

And now you can peek back through the lens of the Hubble Space Telescope to celebrate its upcoming milestone: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has created a new feature on its website that allows you to see the most interesting Hubble recording from your own birthday.

You can't search for the year you were born, the feature only allows you to narrow down results by month and day, and tells you the most momentous finding from that date in the telescope's history. So, even if you were born in 1990, you might get a result from 1995, for instance, but still on your birthday.

Results feature everything from cosmic collisions to otherworldly images of faraway galaxies.

On April 20, 2008, for example, Hubble captured an infrared image of the centre of the Milky Way galaxy.

The image "reveals a population of massive stars and complex structures in the hot ionised gas that swirls around the galactic core", according to Nasa.

On April 21, 2014, meanwhile, the telescope shuttered an image of Jupiter, with the planet's Great Red Spot, a giant storm in the atmosphere, clearly visible.

This image of Jupiter was taken by the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program, a long-term project that uses Hubble to capture global maps of the outer planets every year. The Great Red Spot appears in the lower right.
This image of Jupiter was taken by the Hubble in 2014. Courtesy Nasa

The telescope, named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, was launched by the space shuttle Discovery, and has gone on to provide scientists with a deeper understanding of how the universe works.

Among its main discoveries, the telescope has helped astronomers narrow down the age of the universe in which we live, and helped determine the rate at which the universe is expanding.

In 2013, astronomers using the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope estimated that the Methuselah star was around 14.5 billion years old, give or take around 800 million years. That’s hard to square with the latest estimates of the age of the universe. AP / Shutterstock
The Hubble Space Telescope turns 30 this month. AP / Shutterstock

In 2005, it also photographed two previously unknown moons that orbit Pluto, Nix and Hydra.

According to Nasa, the Hubble Telescope completes 15 orbits per day, and travels at a rate of 480 kilometres per minute.

There are no plans to retire the telescope, which has so far undergone five services in its lifetime. Nasa, however, hope to operate Hubble alongside the James Webb Space Telescope, the agency’s newest infrared observatory, which is planned for launch in 2021.

Updated: April 20, 2020 11:21 AM

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