PHOTOS: Hubble’s turn to smile, marks 25 years in orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) — Hubble, it’s your turn to smile for the cameras!

Friday marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope’s launch into orbit.

One of NASA’s grandest achievements, Hubble has peered into the far recesses of the universe and provided humbling glimpses of stars at the moments of their birth and death. Its images have dazzled and inspired the world, both scientists and ordinary folk.

Its tally to date: more than 1.2 million observations of more than 38,000 celestial objects.

Launched by space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, the telescope initially had blurry vision because of a flawed mirror. Spacewalking astronauts put in corrective lens, restoring not only Hubble’s eyesight but NASA’s integrity. Five times shuttle astronauts visited to make improvements and repairs. John Grunsfeld was on three of those missions and the last person to touch it, in 2009.

Astronomers have learned to use Hubble “in such exquisite ways” thanks to a quarter-century of operations, according to Grunsfeld, now NASA’s associate administrator for science missions. He expects the observatory to keep wowing the world with its science for at least another five years.

“It really is the people’s telescope,” he said.

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