Dr. Jane Rigby



[female reporter] The world's most iconic telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating 25 years in orbit. Here to show us some of Hubble's most amazing images and talk about some of the science it's delivered, is Dr. Jane Rigby from NASA's Goddard Space Center, thanks for joining us. [Dr. Rigby] Of course, happy to be here. [female reporter] So, Hubble Space Telescope is 25, can you show us some Hubble's amazing images? [Dr. Rigby] Absolutely, Hubble has taken so many gorgeous images over it's 25 lifetime. We have seen, these are images that are scientifically powerful and also gorgeous. We've seen our own solar system, we've seen places where stars, like our own Sun are forming. We've seen places where stars like our Sun are dying. We can see galaxies like our own milkyway near by and when we look into deep space we can see thousands of galaxies, young and old. [female reporter] What are some of the surprising things you've learned? [Dr. Rigby] Well Hubble has given us so many surprises, this a telescope that rewrote the science textbooks. A few of my favorites, I would have to say that when Hubble looks deep space, right, at parts of the night's sky that look black and empty and stares for weeks. You add all those images together, you get a picture of deep space. What you see is thousands of galaxies, galaxies everywhere you look. Hubble has taught us that the universe is full of galaxies. We can study galaxies that are young, that have just formed as well as galaxies that are old and that are done forming stars. We can connect those dots to understand how galaxies like our own milkyway formed and evolved. [female reporter] What excites you most about Hubble? [Dr. Rigby] You know I'm going to have to, so for me Hubble is a very personal thing, right Hubble use by thousands scientists all over the world. I'm one of them I have led five programs with five programs with Hubble. It's incredibly competitive, right. Ninety percent of the proposals are rejected, but when you are lucky enough to win then you get to use the telescope. So some of the favorite days in my life have been coming to work early in the morning. Hubble took data for me over night and you are alright is it down yet? you are waiting for the data to come down to Earth. Then you can open up and see apart of the universe where no one has seen before and you get to be the first to do that. Hubble does that every day and for us astronomers it's very, its like your birthday when you get to be the one to get new data from the Hubble Space Telescope. [female reporter] The story of Hubble is also a human story, astronauts service the telescope five times. Can you talk about some of the obstacles that Hubble has overcome? [Dr. Rigby] So the Hubble story is one of a lot of drama and ultimately of triumph. Hubble was launched in 1990 with a defective primary mirror. It was ground very precisely to the wrong shape. We realized that error and in 1993, astronauts went up with Space Shuttle and put corrective lenses into Hubble, that fixed the mirror. Ever since then Hubble has delivered beautiful gorgeous images. Astronauts have been back to service Hubble four more times. Installed new camera's every couple of years. So if you think about where, and thanks to that right, these astronauts were risking their lives to fix Hubble. But every time they did, they made Hubble much better. So they fixed problems like gyroscopes and computers that were failing. But they also put in new digital cameras every couple years. Even though Hubble is 25 years old, have cutting edge amazing instruments on board. [female reporter] Talk about how Hubble has touched people. [Dr. Rigby] Hubble not only takes great scientific data that has rewritten the science text book but it also touches people on a real profound level. When you look at Hubble images they are beautiful. They touch you deeply. I think that's one of the amazing things about Hubble. So everyone knows about Hubble. It is the most famous telescope since Galileo. So everyone knows about Hubble. It is the most famous telescope since Galileo first used a telescope to look up. So it's used by, Hubble images and Hubble content are used by students in all 50 states and their schools. Hubble is the most famous telescope in our lifetime and probably since Galileo first used one. [female reporter] In 2018 NASA will launch the James Webb Space Telescope, tell us a little bit about this mission. [Dr. Rigby] So Hubble is fantastic. We are designing and building a new telescope to what Hubble can't do. So the James Webb Space Telescope which is being built right now here at the Goddard Space Flight Center. It's much bigger than Hubble, it has a 7 times larger mirror. It is designed, we've had built it to do exactly what Hubble can't do. The Webb Telescope will be operated very cold, so that it can see kinds of light that Hubble can't see. Our goal with the Webb telescope is to see the first generation of stars and planets and galaxies that formed after the big bang. Hubble just can't quite do that it's not a big enough mirror and it's not a cold enough telescope, but the Webb telescope will be able to. [female reporter] Where can we see more of Hubble's beautiful images? [Dr. Rigby] So if want to put more Hubble beauty into your day, you want to go to nasa.gov/hubble [female reporter] Dr. Jane Rigby, thanks for joining us. [Dr. Rigby] A pleasure.