Hubble’s ‘before’ and more recent ‘after’ image of M100

To demonstrate the successful repair of the Hubble Space Telescope’s famously flawed optical system, astronomers showed dramatic before-and-after views of the spiral galaxy M100 during a January 1994 news conference. The photo captured before the installation of corrective optics to “fix” Hubble’s spherical aberration showed a blurry, virtually useless image of M100 while an image collected immediately after the space shuttle repair mission showed a crisply focused face-on spiral. The conclusion was obvious: Hubble was poised to revolutionise optical astronomy from its perch high above the atmosphere. Hubble has revisited M100 over the three decades since its launch i n 1990, demonstrating the power of upgraded instruments. This image, captured in December 2018 using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, shows M100 in all its glory, a major improvement over the original post-repair image.

Messier 100, as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3. Image: NASA, ESA

For comparison, here are the original before-and-after photos unveiled during the 1994 post-repair news conference. The blurry pre-repair photo at left was captured by Hubble’s original Wide Field Planetary Camera. The image on the right was taken with the Wide Field Camera 2, which was installed during the first Hubble servicing mission in 1993.

M100 images taken before and after a 1993 space shuttle repair mission to correct Hubble’s flawed optics. Image: NASA, ESA