Bigger, Better Space Telescopes Following In Hubble's Footsteps

Hubble Tune-Up Plans Detailed
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope maintains its orbit around Earth. The space agency hopes to upgrade the aging observatory some time in August 2008. (Image credit: NASA)

Hubble Space Telescope huggers are celebrating the iconic observatory's 20th birthday, even as scientists anticipate the next generation of bigger and more powerful successors to the famed orbital instrument.

The Hubble Space Telescope launched on April 24, 1990 with a flawed mirror, but survived for two decades in large part because of five repair missions by space shuttle astronauts. Its cosmic gaze has led to breakthrough discoveries about the universe and embedded stunning views of the cosmos in the hearts and minds of the public.

"Hubble has done all those things and become an icon of science because it can produce glorious images," said Rick Fienberg, an astronomer and press officer of the American Astronomical Society.

But there's bigger and better science yet to come.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to come online in a few years. And a slew of new space observatories are also being considered, even if none have received the official go-ahead yet.

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Contributing Writer

Jeremy Hsu is science writer based in New York City whose work has appeared in Scientific American, Discovery Magazine, Backchannel, and IEEE Spectrum, among others. He joined the and Live Science teams in 2010 as a Senior Writer and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Indicate Media.  Jeremy studied history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania, and earned a master's degree in journalism from the NYU Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. You can find Jeremy's latest project on Twitter