Hubble’s Camera Troubles
The Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 is once again operational after issues earlier this month caused the camera to suddenly stop observations.
On January 8, the telescope’s camera abruptly stopped working when it detected voltage levels outside of the expected range. That set engineers searching for what caused the problem. After investigating the issue, the team found that the voltage levels inside the camera were actually normal. Instead, data in the instrument’s telemetry circuits wasn’t accurate.
The Wide Field Camera 3 became fully operational and completed its first science observations January 17.
Years of Service
Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, which was installed in 2009 when the telescope was last serviced, has taken more than 240,000 observations to date, contributed data to over 2,000 peer-reviewed published papers, and is the most-used instrument aboard the orbiting space telescope.
Almost 29 years since Hubble was launched, the Hubble Space Telescope is still a workhorse for exploring the universe. It provides a glimpse at some of the cosmos’ most incredible objects. Still, with its age, the telescope has faced a number of recent technical obstacles.
In October, Hubble’s science observations stopped for three weeks when one of its gyroscopes failed. The gyroscopes control how the telescope points and orients itself, and this failure left the telescope with only three of its six gyroscopes operational. Three weeks after the failure, Hubble resumed operations with these three gyroscopes. Thankfully, the remaining gyroscopes are expected to last longer than the gyroscopes that have already failed.