Great news about the Hubble Space Telescope

Yesterday, astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis reached the Hubble and — using the shuttle’s robotic arm — pulled it into the cargo bay. Very, very carefully!

The astronauts are going to give Hubble some important repairs, and also give it some really powerful new equipment.

Hubble was launched into orbit on April 24th, 1990. So last month, it turned 19 years old. So you could say we’re giving Hubble some very cool but slightly overdue birthday presents!

I think Hubble is the greatest scientific instrument ever created.

It is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble. In [YEAR], he discovered that nearly all the galaxies in the universe are moving *away* from each other — which shows that our universe is expanding.

Since we know that our universe is expanding, it makes sense that this expansion must have had a starting point. Scientists call that starting point of the whole universe the “big bang.”

The Hubble Space Telescope has taken lots of great pictures of stars, nebulae, and galaxies. But it’s also allowed scientists to figure out the age of the universe far more accurately than ever before.

Because of information from the Hubble, we know that our universe is about 13.7 billion years old.

But the Hubble Space Telescope has helped astronomers discover many other very surprising things.

For instance, we know that not only is our universe expanding — but it keeps expanding faster and faster!

Here’s what that means: Imagine that you blew up a balloon so much that it popped. Then — instead of the pieces of the balloon slowing down as they move away — they actually sped up!

Let me tell you — plenty of astronomers and scientists were very, very surprised when they saw that!

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers also learned that supermassive black holes are probably common in the centers of all galaxies.

And in 1994, when comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit the planet Jupiter, Hubble took fabulous pictures of this big event. And that was a lucky break for astronomers — it was just a few months after the first time the Hubble got some upgrades and repairs, so it was all ready for action.

So Hubble has been GREAT for astronomers and it will only get better after this week. With repairs and new instruments on board, Hubble is sure to surprise us with great new discoveries about this strange universe we live in.

I’d like to wish the Hubble Space Telescope a very very happy birthday — and I’m looking forward to lots more great pictures and science.

So go outside tonight, look up at the night sky, wave, and yell “HAPPY BIRTHDAY HUBBLE!”