Well, Crap.

3 comments January 30th, 2007at 07:34am Posted by Eli

The Hubble bubble has burst:

The Hubble Space Telescope is flying partly blind across the heavens, a result of a short circuit on Saturday morning in its most popular instrument, the Advanced Camera for Surveys.

NASA engineers reported yesterday that most of the camera’s capabilities, including the ability to take the sort of deep cosmic postcards that have inspired the public and to track the mysterious dark energy splitting the universe to the ends of time, had probably been lost for good.

In a telephone news conference, Hubble engineers and scientists said the telescope itself was in fine shape and would continue operating with its remaining instruments, which include another camera, the wide-field planetary camera 2, or wfpc2, and an infrared camera and spectrograph named Nicmos.


Mr. Burch and his colleagues said it was unlikely that they would be able to repair the camera during the next Hubble servicing mission, which is scheduled for September 2008. On that mission, astronauts will replace the wide-field camera with a powerful new version, wfpc3, which will extend the telescope’s vision to ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths and restore the lost capabilities. They will also install a new ultraviolet spectrograph and make many other pressing repairs.

Noting that the five days of spacewalks for that mission were already full, and that changing things to fix the camera would cost time and money, Dr. Burch said, “At first blush, this doesn’t look attractive.”

The Advanced Camera for Surveys was installed on the telescope in March 2002, and it has been the space telescope’s workhorse. Among its feats, in 2003 the camera took the deepest photograph of the cosmos ever taken, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, showing young galaxy fragments only one billion to two billion years after the Big Bang. In the most recent round of proposals from astronomers to use the telescope, about two-thirds required the advanced camera.


Adam Riess of the space telescope institute, who has used the Hubble telescope to search for supernova explosions in the distant universe to gauge the effects of dark energy on cosmic history, said these explosions would now be out of reach until the new camera was installed.

This really sucks.

Entry Filed under: Science


  • 1. Ruth  |  January 30th, 2007 at 7:46 am

    Those long headed luminous green people were tired of hiding from our giant telescope, don’t blame them. *pfft*

  • 2. four legs good  |  January 30th, 2007 at 10:38 pm


  • 3. Eli  |  January 30th, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Yeah, I kinda had a feeling you would be particularly bummed about it…

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