The Hubble Space Telescope turns 24 this month. The telescope launched on April 24, 1990, as a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). It has since observed more than 30,000 celestial objects and captured in excess of 570,000 pictures.
Every year, NASA and ESA release new images taken by Hubble to mark its anniversary. This year's colorful collection is of the Monkey Head Nebula, a region of star birth 6,400 light years away. The images reveal a dense knot of gas and dust against a background of bright glowing gas in the nebula also known as NGC 2174 and Sharpless Sh2-252.
Hubble was able to capture the vibrancy of the Monkey Head Nebula using its powerful near-infrared camera. The telescope carries six science instruments -- including cameras, spectrographs, and sensors -- which work together and individually to observe the universe. The fine guidance sensors, for example, are used to lock onto "guide stars" and measure their positions relative to the object being watched. The process helps keep Hubble pointed in the right direction.
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— Elena Malykhina has written for Information Week, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and the Associated Press.