Today is the Hubble Space Telescope's birthday — it's been exactly 24 years since it was launched into orbit. The optical telescope captures drop-dead gorgeous images of space, and is a constant source of both new science and new computer wallpapers.

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

Star Cluster NGC 2074 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Image credit: NASA/ESA/M. Livio

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched on April 24th, 1990. It was released in orbit the following day.

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

Hubble was carried into orbit by Space Shuttle Discovery. Image credit: NASA

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

Discovery released Hubble into orbit on April 25th, 1990. Image credit: NASA

The first photos back from Hubble were underwhelming. A crucial flaw in the main mirror was producing fuzzy images, breaking the hearts of astronomers everywhere.

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

Servicing mission 1 to install corrective optics. Image credit: NASA

After ground-based modelling and testing, corrective optics were developed to compensate for the mirror. The first service mission to the Hubble installed these optics — yes, that means the Hubble Space Telescope wears glasses. After that, it was beautiful picture after beautiful picture, in a stream of breathtaking astronomy.

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

More than 3,000 stars in the Orion Nebula. Image credit: NASA/ESA/M. Robberto/Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team

Later servicing missions added additional instruments, and replaced gyroscopes and batteries. A final servicing mission was almost cancelled after the Columbia disaster, but was rescheduled after public pressure to repair the beloved telescope.

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

Saturn and its rings in ultraviolet. Image credit: NASA/E. Karkoschka

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

The 3 light-year tall Mystic Mountain in the Carina Nebula. Credit: NASA/ESA/M. Livio/Hubble 20th Anniversary Team

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

Empty space is anything but: the Deep Field image captures countless galaxies. Image credit: NASA/ESA/R. Thompson

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

The Sombrero Galaxy (M104), 28 million light-years from Earth. Image credit: NASA/Hubble Heritage Team

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

A multi-telescope composite image of Galaxy Cluster Abell 520. Image credit: NASA/ESA/CFHT/CXO/M.J. Jee/A. Mahdavi

Happy Birthday, Hubble!

Pismis 24 in the core of the NGC 6357 nebula, 8,000 light-years from Earth. Image credit: NASA/ESA/J. Maíz Apellániz

What are some of your favourite Hubble Space Telescope images?