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The Hubble Space Telescope: what next?

03 Oct 2005
Dr Richard de Grijs
Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Sheffield .

Without a doubt, the Hubble Space Telescope is the most successful single scientific instrument ever built and operated. Since its launch in the early 1990's, its scientific discoveries and numerous "pretty pictures" have become a household name across the world. This huge success is at least partially thanks to the wonder that we all have about the nature of the Universe, which is in essence summarised by our quest to the very nature and origin of life itself. With many years of continued successful operation left, in particular if serviced one final time by a team of Space Shuttle astronauts, the American government has decided to pull the plug on this project, in order to focus on a human return to the Moon and beyond, the merits of which are as yet unclear.