Hubble’s Main Camera is Offline, Maybe Permanently

Sombrero Galaxy. Image credit: HubbleOne of the Hubble Space Telescope’s main science instruments, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) has gone offline, and the chances of getting back online don’t look so good.

The instrument went into a protected safemode on January 27, and NASA engineers have reported that the input power feed into its Side B electronics package has failed. The bad news is that the camera was already working off of its backup electronics package since June 30, 2006. So now, it’s all out of backups.

Hubble still has all of its other instruments functioning: the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, Near Infrared Camera Multi-Object Spectrograph, and the Fine Guidance Sensors. But the Advanced Camera for Surveys produced some of the best pictures we’re all familiar with.

Since NASA is already working on the plans for a 4th mission to service Hubble, they’ll bring this issue into their planning – but that’s not going to happen until September 2008.

Original Source: NASA News Release