Certainly among civilization's outstanding technological achievements - possibly to the cubed power (since the requirement dictated the telescope itself, plus it's being rocketed into space, then its assemblage and readying for service) - is the Hubble robotic telescope. Probing the deepness of space, it opens up the world of 13.7 billion years ago - to the time of the creation of the Universe. It is a space-based observatory, named for Astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889 - 1958); launched in 1990, it circles the Earth at a height of 593 kilometers (to be above the distortion of Earth's atmosphere); it orbits every 96 minutes. The primary mirror is 2.4 meters in diameter, with a resolution of .1 seconds of arc. What the Hubble telescope has given to mankind is mind-numbing in both beauty and food-for-thought.
From the get-go, the photographs were so phenomenal that NASA established an educational introductory series of Internet specials, e.g. "A Little Astronomy", and a hierarchy of outstanding photos - although they are all so unparalleled as to challenge how there can be any preferential comparisons. However, a selected sequence was established: 1st is Galaxy Hat, M 104; 2nd is Nebula MZ3, two brilliant diamond-like colors;.3rd is Eskimo Nebula NGC 2392; 4th is the Nebula Cat's Eyes: 5th is the Hourglass Nebula; 6th is the Swan Nebula, which looks like how a scene from the creation of the world might appear; etc. Perhaps most striking to this observer is Starry Night, which looks like fragments of a lace curtain (composed of an uncountable number of individual stars), with a central glowing immense red ball, and a dominating extremely brilliant star at its precise center. The group of the first ten selected also include two swirling galaxies, at 11.4 million light years away; the shockingly multi-colored Eagle Nebula; the glittering Rosette Nebula. Then, with heart-stopping impact is an end view of a black hole, with its life-sucking rays of inward-pulling energy and light - the rays seeming to be emanating from the center and extending into space on both sides - instead of being the reverse. They are all so commanding, that obviously any hierarchial ordering can only be arbitrary, personal and debatable.
However, although all the above - the standard output of the Hubble telescope - are overwhelmingly phenomenal, to experience an intellectual-religious emotion, driven by the knowledge of what it is, as well as what the visual display, is the latest achievement, called Ultra Deep Field - where the Hubble telescope was focused on absolutely blank, empty, dark spaces in the cosmic landscape of bright lights- focused for as long as eight, then ten, then eleven days.
A meaningful aspect of the Hubble telescope is that this massive investment of our country's capital in treasure and brain-power, utilizing much of our nation's most outstanding in science and technology, is the fact that it was not required by a compelling need such as national defense against enemies, either mortal or disease, but motivated only to satisfy humankind's curiosity, to comprehend, to learn about our habitat, the universe.
What was revealed in these blank, dark spots was stars, and stars, and stars, and galaxies,and galaxies, sparkling everywhere across the entire panorama of the heavens. They were so distant that it took days for these faintest of light rays to be accumulated by the Hubble telescope so as to be visible. But there they were, in every dark and blank spot: galaxies - and galaxies - and galaxies.
From the data gathered, NASA has created a 3-D presentation of our universe, over forty billions of light years across our expanding universe, with estimates of 100 billion galaxies - like our Milky Way, each galaxy with millions of stars - like our sun, each sun with untold numbers of planets - possibly like Earth. Is there a purpose to these billions of non-visible galaxies with their suns and planets. Is there life elsewhere? How was our universe created? Why?