According to Wired News, by sending out micro PCs to the scientists at the Space Telescope Science Institute, Google is helping them collect and house the vast amount of data collecting by the Hubble telescope.
[Google] ships both the PC and array to teams of scientists at various research institutions, which then connect their local servers to the array via an eSATA connection. Once the data transfer is complete, the drives get sent straight back to Mountain View, where [they] copy the data to Google’s servers for archival purposes. The idea then is that if other scientists around the world needed access to such a large quantity of data, Google would simply reverse the process.
Why is Google in the storage business? Some suggest they have ulterior motives.
While the company remains cagey about its future plans, it’s conceivable that it may be working on a more science-oriented search engine, along the lines of Google Scholar.