Hubble delivers consistently beautiful images of the cosmos because its handlers point it to distant galaxies and star clusters, but its image capabilities were not always so breathtaking. The telescope was launched a long way back in the early 1990s, and in the early years of its life it has hardly underestimated its high expectations.
You see, an error in the telescope’s mirror led many of the images to blur and it was not until the lens was in a hurry that researchers understood how bad it was. In 1993, NASA decided to fix it, and now, as the agency celebrates the 25th anniversary of the first Hubble service mission, we can look back and see how well they did.
As NASA explains, Hubble was so groundbreaking that time when they did not know how much better the images would get after the mirror had been replaced with a new one. They knew that the pictures were bad at the time but only how much they could improve was still unknown. Then they took before and after shots of a number of remote sights in space to compare them side by side with both the wrong mirror and the new one.
As you can see both in the image at the top of the page and the one directly above it is a dramatic difference. On their own, the images on the left side of the trials are nice, but with the context of how well they could have been, we can see how much the wrong mirror held the telescope back.
“The image must be taken before the astronauts replaced the camera with the vision-corrected Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, in December 1993, explains NASA.” After the mission, Hubble photographed the galaxy again and it snapped into crystal clear focus. The public celebrated Hubble’s triumphant return to the clear vision that had been promised. Jaw-dropping images of the great universe that followed did not disappoint space enthusiasts. “