One of Hubble Space Telescope’s most powerful cameras is no longer functional, and the cause has remained a mystery.
The Advanced Camera for Surveys Instrument was affected by a glitch on February 28th. An error message appeared during a routine task. According to the error message, the software used by the camera couldn’t be loaded correctly. A mixed team of experts which includes engineers and software technicians was formed and is analyzing the problem, as e speak. The main aim of the team is to identify the source of the issue and work on solutions that could be employed efficiently.
The other tools present on the telescope are functioning correctly. The space telescope sports three other cameras: the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and Wide Field Camera 3.
Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys is used to capture impressive images of the universe. The visible-light camera was installed in 2002 during a maintenance mission. That is not the first incident involving the camera as an electrical short affected the device in 2007, but it was repaired in 2009 during one last service mission.
Tough times for Hubble Space Telescope
Another issue affected the Wide Field 3 Camera in January. The device turned off automatically when the maintenance software detected odd voltage readings. An investigation revealed that a telemetry error caused the problem, and the camera was turned on by NASA.
The Hubble Space Telescope is the result of a joint project developed by NASA and the European Space Agency. The project started in 1983 but several roadblocks delayed it. Soon after it was deployed the researchers discovered that a technical error compromised the capabilities of the telescope. The problem was solved during a maintenance mission which took place in 1993, and the telescope became fully operational.
The data gathered by Hubble Space Telescope has allowed researchers to answer big questions which fascinated astronomers from centuries. NASA won’t send another mission to the telescope, but the agency plans to use it for as long as possible.