This Dec. 21, 2002, artist’s concept of NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer imagines what the space telescope would look like during its mission. Launched April 28, 2003, it studied the shape, brightness, size and distance of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic history. By observing ultraviolet wavelengths, the telescope measured the history of star formation in the universe.

This space telescope allowed astronomers to uncover mysteries about the early universe and how it evolved, as well as better characterize phenomena like black holes and dark matter. The mission was extended three times over a period of 10 years before it was decommissioned in June 2013.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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