sci21009 — Announcement

Hubble’s Impact on Society: the reach of the 31st anniversary initiatives

11 October 2021

-By Bethany Downer-

In its more than three decades in orbit, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionised our understanding of the Universe, educated both astronomers and the public at large, and inspired new generations of students to become interested in astronomy, space science and engineering. Hubble has brought the Universe into people’s homes and has effectively made its beauty accessible to all, worldwide, and not just a privilege reserved to a few professional astronomers. 

The initial history of failure and recovery has hit a chord with the public that no other mission has. It is a tale of amazing human ingenuity that prompted a collaboration spanning continents and involving diverse communities of astronomers and engineers to find a solution that could restore the intended capabilities. The astronauts made it all possible, and maintained the telescope’s state-of-the-art technology with five servicing missions, to make it the powerful observatory that it is today.

As the Hubble Space Telescope has become a household name over its lifetime, each year around 24 April the  scientific community and the public alike come together to celebrate Hubble’s remarkable achievements. In collaboration with NASA/STScI, ESA/Hubble uses this opportunity to develop special initiatives to engage and involve the public in this annual milestone. Hubble’s impact on society is evident upon reflecting on some of the key metrics collected as part of the initiatives and products released for Hubble’s 31st anniversary so far in 2021.

The notable photo release of AG Carinae marking Hubble’s 31st anniversary image yielded approximately 1 billion impressions worldwide. Of the several hundred news articles published online to share this image, one third were published by European media outlets and roughly 38% were published in European languages.

The various public engagement initiatives also saw significant participation and reach in the past few months. For example, the ESA/Hubble GIPHY page has already surpassed 3.5 million views, averaging 15 000 to 25 000 views daily. In addition, the special Chrome browser tool developed for users to enjoy the Top 100 Images collection while browsing the internet currently has more than 1000 users who are enjoying the application and all reviews have reported 5 stars. On social media, the campaigns promoting the anniversary image release and these various public engagement initiatives reached approximately 7.5 million people. You are all part of this!

Hubble’s impact and significance in the eyes of the public remain strong and prominent, as displayed by the enthusiasm and engagement throughout the celebration of the telescope’s 31st anniversary activities this year. We are grateful to you, our community of engaged scientists, for your continued support and for keeping the magic happening! We in the ESA/Hubble outreach team look forward to continuing to develop and publish impactful products to showcase Hubble’s amazing science and we invite you to learn more about how we can work together to showcase your Hubble results here.


Bethany Downer
ESA/Hubble Chief Science Communications Officer

About the Announcement



A Closer Look at Hubble’s 31st Anniversary Snapshot
A Closer Look at Hubble’s 31st Anniversary Snapshot

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