It's not every day that your accomplishments become so famous and scientifically transformative that your last name becomes a household staple, but that's exactly the case for Edwin Hubble. The American astrophysicist helped lay the foundation for the Big Bang Theory by proving the universe is in fact ever-expanding, a concept that had not yet come full circle in Hubble's career. But on April 24, 1990, 47 years after Hubble's death, the Hubble Space Telescope launched into space on the back of the Discovery shuttle. In fact, at the Hubble's current rate of one circle around our planet every 97 minutes, it's expected the telescope would fall back to Earth in 2024 if left alone. Often mistaken for a small, lightweight telescope, the Hubble is actually about as long as a double-decker bus and would likely burn up in the atmosphere before any of its remnants could be traced back to the Earth's surface.
In its more than 20 years of orbiting the planet, the Hubble telescope has made some amazing discoveries. Learn more about the incredible ways this NASA project has paved the way for science around the world.