Hubble photo.

A photo from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of the Carina Nebula. From this angle it looks like a space alien pointing an ET finger. (AP Photo/NASA)

By Frank James

The Hubble telescope has clearly gotten its groove back, as stunning photos released by NASA on Wednesday demonstrate.

The 19-year old telescopic platform got new equipment and had repairs done during a May space shuttle mission.

Aside from launching rockets into space, NASA is very adept at politics, which it showed once again by having Sen. Barbara Mikulsi, a Maryland Democrat, unveil the new photos.

In any event, the new equipment makes it possible for Hubble to get even more eye-popping photos of the part of the Universe it can see.

An excerpt from a NASA article:

With its new imaging camera, Hubble can view galaxies, star clusters, and other objects across a wide swath of the electromagnetic spectrum, from ultraviolet to near-infrared light. A new spectrograph slices across billions of light-years to map the filamentary structure of the universe and trace the distribution of elements that are fundamental to life...
Now that Hubble has reopened for business, it will tackle a whole range of observations. Looking closer to Earth, such observations will include taking a census of the population of Kuiper Belt objects residing at the fringe of our solar system, witnessing the birth of planets around other stars, and probing the composition and structure of the atmospheres of other worlds.
Peering much farther away, astronomers have ambitious plans to use Hubble to make the deepest-ever portrait of the universe in near-infrared light. The resulting picture may reveal never-before-seen infant galaxies that existed when the universe was less than 500 million years old. Hubble also is now significantly more well-equipped to probe and further characterize the behavior of dark energy, a mysterious and little-understood repulsive force that is pushing the universe apart at an ever-faster rate.

categories: Science

3:05 - September 9, 2009