Spaceflight Insider

Hubble camera shut down following anomaly

The Hubble Space Telescope as seen in Earth orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope as seen in Earth orbit. Photo Credit: NASA

Operations of Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have been suspended following an anomaly, the space agency reported Jan. 8, 2019.

According to a release from NASA, the anomaly occurred at 12:23 p.m. EST (17:23 GMT) Jan. 8. The space agency did not disclose the exact nature of the issue, only stating it was a “hardware problem.”

“Hubble will continue to perform science observations with its other three active instruments, while the Wide Field Camera 3 anomaly is investigated,” NASA said.

The agency added that WFC3 is equipped with redundant electronics should they be needed during the recovery process for the instrument.

WFC3 was installed by astronauts during Hubble Servicing Mission 4 in 2009. The instrument is used by astronomers to study a wide array of celestial objects an phenomena from young and distant galaxies, to much nearer stellar systems and exoplanets, to objects within our own solar system. It has the capability of spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from the ultraviolet through visible light and into the near-infrared.

The Hubble team has become highly proficient at ground-based trouble-shooting and resolving of problems with the spacecraft. This was demonstrated last October, when an anomaly with a gyroscope sent the space observatory into safe mode.

After about three weeks, the team was able to restore the telescope to working status with three functional gyroscopes.

Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 instrument. Photo Credit: NASA

Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument as seen on the ground before its launch in 2009. Photo Credit: NASA



Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise. While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.

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