Chris Martinez, CBS Newspath

(CBS Newspath) — NASA launched one of its greatest exploration tools 30 years ago. The Hubble Space Telescope launched into orbit April 24th, 1990 on the Space Shuttle Discovery.

From capturing the birth of a star to uncovering galaxies millions of light years away, Hubble has gifted the world with some of the most iconic and mind-blowing images of deep space, helping scientists better understand our universe.

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“The Hubble Space Telescope basically changed our entire view of where we are in the universe,” says NASA’s Dr. Jennifer Wiseman. She says the telescope is something of a time machine, allowing scientists to see stars and galaxies billions of years old.

The images are answering questions about how the universe formed and how it’s growing. “Those measurements continue today and, in fact, have yielded some recent surprising findings that the expansion rate of the universe is, in fact, starting to accelerate,” Dr. Wiseman says.

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Hubble was designed to be improved and has undergone five upgrades in orbit. While the spacecraft was never intended to last forever, researchers believe it still has life left in it. Dr. Wiseman says, “The science instruments are in good shape, the supporting instruments like batteries and gyroscopes are in good shape, and we have clever ways of operating Hubble over the coming years.”

That leaves time to unravel other interstellar mysteries and reveal more breathtaking wonders of the final frontier.

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The Hubble Telescope was named for fame astrologer Edwin Hubble. The spacecraft’s successor, the James Webb Telescope, is set to join Hubble in orbit sometime in 2021.