Hubble Space Telescope's camera is back in action after one-week shutdown

Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope had shut on 8 January due to a hardware problem.

The Hubble Space Telescope's premier camera is back in action, after a shutdown of just over a week, because of a hardware problem.

NASA has announced that the camera resumed observations on 17 January. It stopped working 8 January.  Hubble’s three other science instruments were still working fine though, with celestial observations continuing.

NASA shows the Hubble Space Telescope from the space shuttle Atlantis, orbiting the Earth. Image: AP

NASA shows the Hubble Space Telescope from the space shuttle Atlantis, orbiting the Earth. Image: AP

The wide field camera shut itself down, sensing a problem with voltage levels. It turns out the levels were normal and the readings were bad. The problem was solved after flight controllers reset the telemetry circuits. The repair effort was unaffected by the partial government shutdown; NASA’s satellite operations are considered high priority.

Spacewalking shuttle astronauts installed this camera in 2009. It’s the third and final version of the instrument, and has captured stunning pictures of some of the earliest galaxies.

The camera has captured stunning images of stars, galaxies stretching far back in time and assisted in deep sky surveys. It’s also studied objects in our own solar system, discovering some of the tiny moons around Pluto, as well as a 14th moon around Neptune. It takes pictures in both visible and ultraviolet light, as well as near infrared.

Orbiting 350 miles (560 kilometers) above Earth, Hubble was launched in 1990 and visited by space shuttle astronauts, for repairs and upgrades, five times.

Last fall, Hubble stopped working altogether for three weeks because of a pointing problem.

Last year in September, the Hubble Space Telescope has started a new mission to study six massive galaxy clusters that may help shed light on how the earliest galaxies evolved in the universe, NASA said. Learning about the formation and evolution of the very first galaxies in the universe is crucial for our understanding of the cosmos.

With inputs from The Associated Press

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