(London, UK – 13 April 2015) Since launching, NASA’s most famous space telescope has beamed stunning images of spectacular galaxies, exploding stars and vast nebulae back to Earth and revolutionised our understanding of the universe. To mark its 25th anniversary (#Hubble25), National Geographic Channel documents what is perhaps NASA’s most successful science project ever, in Hubble’s Cosmic Journey, premiering Saturday 18th April at 8pm on National Geographic Channel.
Sent into space on April 24, 1990, Hubble took longer to build and launch than NASA’s Apollo Moonshot missions. Initially, sending back blurry images, the flawed telescope nearly broke NASA, but it was saved by an audacious Space Shuttle repair mission three years later and has gone on to capture now-iconic images of previously unseen galaxies and star forming regions, like the famous Eagle and the Horsehead Nebulae.
Narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of the channel’s upcoming talk show Star Talk, Hubble's Cosmic Journey carries revealing interviews with the key players behind the saga of NASA’s ground-breaking telescope as well as astrophysicists like Stephen Hawking.
Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “Hubble transformed how people around the world look at our cosmos. The telescope represents a stunning combination of science, engineering and, ultimately, poetry. The images are so beautiful, graced with so much detail, that you do not even require a caption to embrace the beauty and majesty of the universe.”
Following years of research and development, delayed in part by the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the over 13-metre long telescope was launched in 1990. The triumphant moment quickly soured when NASA learned the 2.4 metre wide mirror inside turned out to be flawed. Many believed the space agency’s future rested on their ability to correct the optics.
Since that time, Hubble has operated on minimal battery power. The telescope withstands any shaking while orbiting in space to record the sharpest pictures over the deepest distances in unprecedented detail. Able to see galaxies over 13 billion years old, it is the most famous telescope in the world.
Hubble’s Cosmic Journey is directed by BAFTA nominated Christopher Riley. Despite the extraordinary success of the Hubble Space Telescope over the past quarter century, Riley found optical engineer Bud Rigby and his colleagues responsible for building the telescope’s exquisite mirror - still burdened by how he and his colleagues were treated when the telescope didn’t work at first.
Christopher Riley said, "I had a hard time persuading them to take part in the film, as they’d been so vilified by the media in the past. Yet the fact that the telescope remains at the cutting edge of cosmology today, a quarter of a century after its construction is a tribute to their outstanding skill.
Top Ten Achievements of the Hubble Space Telescope
1. Photographing the furthest Galaxy ever seen by humans – some 13.3 billion light years from Earth.
2. Measuring the rate of expansion of the Universe more accurately than ever before.
3. Exploring nature of the early Universe, revealed through the deepest and most ancient views of visible light in the Cosmos ever captured.
4. Revealed the prevalence of super massive black holes at the centre of galaxies.
5. Witnessed planet formation inside discs of dust and gas around young stars.
6. Evidence of the presence of planets around other Sun-like stars.
7. Detailed long term observations of our outer planets – revealing sharper images than any others taken since Voyager.
8. Capturing the best images to date of our distant dwarf planets Pluto and Eris.
9. Charting a subsurface ocean 100km deep on Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede.
10. Charted the spectacular impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter.
Hubble’s Cosmic Journey will air globally on National Geographic Channel in 171 countries and 45 languages. The film is produced by Bigger Bang Productions. For National Geographic Channels International, Hamish Mykura is Executive Vice President and Head of International Content.
About National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) inspires viewers through its smart, innovative programming that questions what we know, how we view the world and what drives us forward. A business enterprise owned by National Geographic Ventures and FOX Entertainment Group, NGCI contributes to the National Geographic Society's commitment to exploration, conservation and education through its various channels: National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Channel HD, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Wild HD, Nat Geo People and Nat Geo Mundo. Globally, National Geographic Channel (including NGC U.S., which is a joint venture of NGV and Fox Cable Networks Group) is available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries and 45 languages. For more information, please visit www.natgeotv.com.
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