Galaxies from the early universe. The birthplaces of planets. Dark matter. Dark energy. Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has brought these mysteries into focus, its powerful gaze scanning the universe for the details planet-bound telescopes find impossible to detect.
Far above the Earth's surface, Hubble floats clear of the planet's light-distorting atmosphere, beaming back images that have transfixed humanity and changed the scientific world.
Hubble's triumphs continue to accumulate thanks to a unique design that allows astronauts to repair and upgrade the telescope while it remains in orbit. Repairs keep the telescope functioning smoothly, while upgrades to the instruments bring a slew of new discoveries and science.
The next servicing mission, Servicing Mission 4 (SM4), in May 2009, will be the final trip to the Hubble Telescope. Over the course of five spacewalks, astronauts will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones, and perform the component replacements that will keep the telescope functioning at least into 2014. The effort-intensive, rigorously researched, exhaustively tested mission also involves diverse groups of people on the ground throughout the country
NASA's latest update says-
Date Released: Monday, May 18, 2009
Source: Johnson Space Center
Human hands have touched the Hubble Space Telescope for the last time. Astronauts Andrew Feustel and John Grunsfeld spent seven hours and two minutes putting the finishing touches on the telescope in the final spacewalk from a space shuttle airlock.
During the STS-125 mission's five spacewalks, Atlantis' crew completed all of the mission objectives to improve Hubble's view of the universe.
Over the course of the mission's five spacewalks, the crew added two new science instruments, repaired two others and replaced hardware that will extend the telescope's life at least through 2014. The five spacewalks lasted 36 hours and 56 minutes all together. There have been 23 spacewalks devoted to Hubble, totaling 166 hours and six minutes.