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15th Anniversary of the Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope

Apr 28, 2005

Mr. UDALL of Colorado, speaking. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a resolution with my colleagues Mr. EHLERS, Chairman BOEHLERT, Ranking Member GORDON, Mr. ROSCOE BARTLETT, Mr. MCDERMOTT, and Mr. RUPPERSBERGER recognizing the contributions to science resulting from the Hubble Space Telescope and congratulating all those who have helped make Hubble one of the most important astronomical instruments in history.

On April 25, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit. In the years since the launch, Hubble has sent back images that have expanded our understanding of the universe beyond anyone's expectation. For the last fifteen years, school children, scientists, and interested citizens around the world have eagerly welcomed new images from Hubble--images that have provided an exciting keyhole into the wonders of our universe.

Hubble's scientific contributions have amazed us all for fifteen years. Just this week, NASA and the European Space Agency released images taken by Hubble of the largest and sharpest images of the Eagle Nebula and the Whirlpool Galaxy. Last year Hubble detected oxygen and carbon in the atmosphere of a distant planet, the first time the elements have been found at a world outside our solar system. Hubble also contributed to the finding of new evidence about recently discovered ``dark energy.'' Hubble measured properties of light from 16 exploding stars, or supernovas, to find that the dark energy that pervades the universe might be what Einstein originally called the ``cosmological constant.'' This discovery supports the theory that instead of ripping apart, the cosmos will continue expanding very slowly for at least the next 30 billion years.

These are just recent discoveries. Hubble remains one of the most productive scientific instruments in history, and certainly NASA's most productive scientific mission, accounting for 35 percent of all its discoveries in the last 20 years. The Hubble has provided proof of black holes, insights into the birth and death of stars, spectacular views of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9's collision with Jupiter, the age of the universe, and evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. In short, Hubble has become a symbol of scientific excellence.

In addition to its past and potentially future scientific discoveries, Hubble provides information used by approximately one million teachers per year across the U.S. Hubble has also opened up the wonders of space to our youth and to all our citizens. As we struggle to keep our students interested in the sciences, images from Hubble inspire our youth to continue to believe that they can become astronauts and astronomers. Hubble images have brought the wonders of space down to the level of the classroom.

Of course, Hubble could not have been the success it has been without the countless scientists, engineers, civil servants, contractors and other individuals and organizations that built and launched Hubble and then utilized its images to great effect. They have all contributed to making Hubble the national treasure it is today. So this resolution is intended to honor them and their commitment to science and the benefits it brings to our country and our world.

The Hubble has provided inspiration worldwide to young and old, scientists and non-scientists alike. I hope my colleagues will join me in celebrating the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope and the knowledge we have gained about our universe from this important astronomical instrument.

Reference: H.Res. 251