That said, NASA announced this week the Hubble Space Telescope has completed its 100,000th orbit of earth. All told the orbiting spyglass has been up there for 18 years and traveled 2.72 billion miles.
To mark the occasion, NASA took this picture:
In this picture (the black part is intentional): "Hubble peered into a small portion of the nebula near the star cluster NGC 2074 (upper, left). The region is a firestorm of raw stellar creation, perhaps triggered by a nearby supernova explosion. It lies about 170,000 light-years away near the Tarantula nebula, one of the most active star-forming regions in our Local Group of galaxies."
Some other examples of Hubble's work include:
The Eagle Nebula (probably Hubble's most famous snap)
A "String of Cosmic Pearls" surrounding an exploding star
The Saturn Aurora
Astronauts are even now preparing for a fifth and final visit to Hubble that will, if all goes correctly, keep this amazing tool of discovery functioning until 2013. That same year, the James Webb Space Telescope, a much larger and more capable replacement for Hubble, is scheduled leave for its new home at the earth's second Lagrange (L2) point located 1.5 million kilometers in space.
In other space news, NASA officials said today America's new manned space vehicle, the Orion, won't be ready to fly until 2014. This means we, the U.S., will have to carpool with the Russians for at least four years to get to our $100 billion orbiting tree house after the shuttles are retired in 2010.
Seriously, these people call themselves rocket scientists? (Giving credit where credit is due: Congress also has not properly funded the program.)
Anyway, until Hubble finally tumbles out of control to a fiery death, we can still enjoy its work.
Here's looking at you, kid.