sci15006 — Announcement

Hubble 2020: Building on 25 Years of Discovery — Symposium to celebrate 25th anniversary of Hubble’s launch

6 July 2015

Every year, the STScI organises a spring symposium on a topic of high scientific interest. This year, as we celebrated Hubble’s splendid 25 years in space, it seemed appropriate to dedicate the symposium to the amazing science done using the Hubble Space Telescope in its lifetime.

As they were pondering the title for the symposium, the Science Organizing Committee (SOC) had to make a difficult choice between focusing on the great achievements of the past, or, focusing on the future, at the legacy that the next years will bring.

Yes, Hubble is still going strong. As a very powerful panchromatic observatory, it is well equipped to answer a broad variety of astronomical questions, and continue observing the entire Universe, from the planets in the Solar System, to the farthest galaxies. Rejuvenated by the last Servicing Mission in 2009, all instruments are performing nominally, and — touch wood — the spacecraft is going strong too. The expectations are that Hubble will be a viable observatory well into the 2020s, giving it an overlap with the James Webb Space Telescope, which is on track for launch in 2018.

Eventually, the SOC decided to take this opportunity to ask you all, the astronomical community, what Hubble should be doing over the next five years, hence the title of the conference Hubble 2020: Building on 25 Years of Discovery. We designed a scientific programme for the symposium that covered all aspects of Hubble science, while asking all speakers to think of the future five years and explore the opportunities provided by a possible overlap between Hubble and Webb.

All the talks were recorded, and are available online if you missed the symposium, and are interested to hear the latest on Hubble science, and about the wishes expressed for the future Hubble programme.

To really celebrate the 25th anniversary, almost 1200 people, including staff, families and distinguished guests, attended an afternoon of historical reminiscence and celebration at STScI. Guests included key individuals who had played a major role in the design, construction and launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. This included astronomers and engineers, STScI Directors, NASA administrators, ESA representatives and astronauts. A special Bahcall lecture was also delivered by Professor Bob Kirshner of Harvard University, USA.

Three discussion panels were organised to cover the most significant phases of Hubble’s life: the very early design phases, the discovery and fix of the mirror’s spherical aberration, and the last servicing mission to the telescope. As questions such as “What did it take to launch Hubble?” were considered by the panelists and audience members alike, we could not avoid marveling at how ambitious and visionary Hubble’s designers had been, and how rewarding for them it was to see that, 25 years later, the observatory is still producing breakthrough science.

The evening concluded at the American Visionary Art Museum. The venue was chosen to reflect Hubble’s connection to the local community, and the impact that Hubble science has had and continues to have, on art and society. Heaven’s Carousel, a kinetic light and sound installation by artist Tim Otto Roth, inspired by the accelerating Universe, premiered that evening.



Antonella Nota
ESA HST Project Scientist, STScI

About the Announcement



25th anniversary celebrations at STScI
25th anniversary celebrations at STScI

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