Here’s How Astronomers Were Able To Help Detect Breast Cancer

Now that's some serious problem solving.

While the Hubble Space Telescope is internationally known for providing scientists with stunning images from across the Universe, its mission got off to a really bumpy start.

In the first couple of weeks after it was launched on April 24, 1990, scientists discovered that one of the mirrors was flawed and didn't reflect light the way it was supposed to. This resulted in pictures that were so blurry, they were essentially unusable. Because Hubble is an orbiting telescope, there wasn't any cost-effective way of immediately replacing the mirror. To fix the problem, scientists had to get creative. They ended up writing an algorithm that took the light coming into Hubble and sharpened in, creating an image with a higher resolution. (It is worth mentioning that the mirror was replaced a few years later)

Not only did this ingenious fix save Hubble's images, but the same algorithm was able to be applied to blurry mammography images. This allowed women, particularly with dense tissue, to detect breast cancer early and get lifesaving treatment.

It was decided that the 2009 service repair would be the telescope's last. NASA will continue to use it until it becomes inoperable, which should be at least until 2020. Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is set to be launched in 2018 and will be able to take image and learn information far beyond Hubble's capabilities.

Let's celebrate 25 years of exceptional service by looking back at the most remarkable images Hubble has taken during this mission.

Tarantula Nebula, Distance: 170,000 light years

"Pillars of Creation," Eagle Nebula, Distance: 7,000 light years

Abell 2218, Distance: 2 billion light years

Rose Galaxy, Distance: 600 million light years

Ring Nebula, Distance: 2,500 light years

Saturn, Distance: 746 million miles

“Mystic Mountain,” Carina Nebula, Distance: 7,500 light years

Carina Nebula, Distance: 7,500 light years

Antennae Galaxies, Distance: 65 million light years

Sombrero Galaxy, Distance: 29 million light years

Star Cluster Westerlund 2, Distance: 20,000 light years

Cat's Eye Nebula, Distance: 3,000 light years

Galaxy M83, Distance: 15 million light years

Crab Nebula, Distance: 6,500 light years

Orion Nebula, Distance: 1,300 light years

RS Puppis (star), Distance: 6,500 light years

Teacup Galaxy, Distance: 1 billion light years

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

Mars, Distance: 140 million miles

Comet ISON

Horsehead Nebula, Distance: 1,300 light years

Star Cluster NGC 602, Distance: 196,000 light years

Butterfly Nebula, Distance: 3,800 light years

Collision between galaxies Arp 272, IC 1179, and NGC 6050, Distance: 450 million light years

Nebula Messier 17, Distance: 5,500 light years

Ring galaxy AM 0644-741, Distance: 300 million light years

Jupiter, Distance: 500 million miles

Star Cluster NGC 121, Distance: 200,000 light years

Fountain of Youth galaxies, Distance: 600 million light years

Stephan's Quintet, Distance: 290 million light years

[Images via: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team]