While most satellites have an average lifespan of 10-15 years, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has pushed past 26 years of service, photographing the far reaches of space.
With the upcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope carded for 2018, one would have thought that Hubble would finally phased out after almost three decades of outstanding work. However, NASA has injected another $196.3 million worth of funding, providing 5 years of additional operational support for use by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
The added funding will allow the satellite to continue operation from July 1st, 2016 to June 30th, 2021.
This contract extension covers the work necessary to continue the science program of the Hubble mission by the Space Telescope Science Institute. The support includes the products and services required to execute science system engineering, science ground system development, science operations, science research, grants management and public outreach support for Hubble and data archive support for missions in the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes.
As mentioned before, HST has quite a number of achievements under its belt including the discovery of dark matter, dark energy, gamma ray bursts, a number of super black holes, over 400 exoplanets, and the last but not least, the beginning of time.
After the final space shuttle servicing mission to the telescope in 2009, Hubble is better than ever. Hubble is expected to continue to provide valuable data into the 2020’s, securing its place in history as an outstanding general purpose observatory in areas ranging from our solar system to the distant universe.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), Hubble’s successor, will up the ante as it is set up to detect visible light on the orange-red spectrum all the way to mid-infrared light. The tennis court sized telescope will be able to see way beyond what Hubble can see as infrared light is capable of passing through clouds, opening a gateway of new discoveries.