Thing of the Week

Hubble Space Telescope 25th Anniversary Model

Hubble Space Telescope
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The Hubble Space Telescope is a quarter of a century old. Commemorate this titan of the spaceways by 3D printing an official model released by NASA.

On 25 April 1990, astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery deployed the Hubble Space Telescope into Earth orbit. Named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble, the telescope has a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, with four main instruments that can observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra.

With the first major optical telescope in space, high above the rain clouds and light pollution of our atmosphere, scientists now had an unobstructed view of the universe.

Print your own Hubble Space Telescope


For the 25 years, scientists have used Hubble to observe the most distant stars and galaxies as well as the planets in our solar system. The space observatory has made a series of ground-breaking investigations and brought revolutionary changes in mankind’s understanding of planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies.

“From its position 600 km above the earth, Hubble can capture light that has travelled undisturbed through space for billions of years, before it can be blurred or filtered out in Earth’s atmosphere,” explains Dr. Natascha Schreiber, from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Studies. “With the sharpest images of young galaxies, which were born three billion years after the Big Bang, Hubble showed how young galaxies manifested in their forms.”

NASA has celebrated this milestone by releasing an STL file of the Hubble Space Telescope that you can download and 3D print at home. The finished model isn’t small – around 10 cms tall – and the print job might take a while, but if you’re any kind of astronomy fan it’ll be worth the effort. After all, this is most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo invented the telescope.

To the right you can see a user print by folks from the Queensland University of Technology (placed next to a smartphone to give you an idea of scale).

“The exciting story of the Hubble research continues with the discovery of ever more distant galaxies or very young ones,” says Dr. Schreiber. The Hubble will continue to be in operation until 2020, whilst its scientific successor, the more powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is scheduled for launch in 2018.

Image sources: NASA, ESA