Scientists released images that slice across billions of light-years to probe the cosmic-web structure of the universe and map the distribution of elements that are fundamental to life. The images look back to times when the universe was millions of light-years younger than it is today.
Named after American astronomer Edwin Hubble, the space telescope was carried into orbit by the space shuttle in April 1990. The Hubble is the only telescope ever designed to be serviced in space by astronauts, but after the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident, the fifth servicing mission was canceled on safety grounds. After much public discussion, NASA reconsidered, and administrator Mike Griffin approved one final Hubble servicing mission.
During the mission launched in May 2009, astronauts installed two new instruments and made numerous repairs. The latest servicing should allow the telescope to function until at least 2014, when its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is due to be sent aloft.