Main Hubble Camera goes dead... Jan 30, 2007 5:50:53 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jan 30, 2007 5:50:53 GMT -6
NASA: Hubble Space Telecope's Main Camera Offline, Some Science Lost
The Hubble Space Telescope’s primary camera is offline, with some science capabilities likely lost for good, NASA officials said Monday.
An electrical short in the backup system for Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) pushed the space telescope into a protective “safe mode” over the weekend and prompted the formation of an Anomaly Investigation Board on Monday, NASA officials said.
The incident, the third since June to hobble Hubble’s ACS camera, occurred at 7:34 a.m. EST (1234 GMT) on Jan. 27. Engineers managed to switch the space telescope back to normal operations, with the exception of the ACS instrument, by Sunday and hope to resume science observations with the observatory’s remaining instruments later this week.
NASA has convened an Anomaly Review Board to go over Hubble’s latest malfunction, the results of which are expected to be presented by March 2.
“Obviously, we are very disappointed by this latest event because of the popularity of the ACS instrument with astronomers,” NASA’s Preston Burch, Hubble program manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland, told reporters today in a teleconference.
It was Hubble’s ACS camera’s wide field channel, for example, that allowed astronomers to generate Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field – the deepest view into the universe to date. But that ACS channel, and a high-resolution channel used to study stars surrounded by planet-forming material, are likely lost since the latest glitch has cut off power to their systems, Hubble managers said.
“We’re not optimistic at all that those will be restored,” said David Leckrone, NASA’s senior project scientist for Hubble at the GSFC. “The saving grace here is that we have a superb new wide field camera coming along that was originally designed, in fact, to be a back up for ACS in case ACS failed. It was designed to work in tandem with ACS if [it] was full alive.”
That new camera – known as Wide Field Camera 3 – is due to be installed at Hubble during NASA’s last space shuttle flight to the observatory in September 2008.