NASA Update: Wide Field Camera 3 Anomaly on Hubble Space Telescope
From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, January 11, 2019
NASA continues to work toward recovering the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument, which suspended operations on Tuesday, Jan. 8.
Shortly after noon EST on Jan. 8, software installed on the Wide Field Camera 3 detected that some voltage levels within the instrument were out of the predefined range. As expected under those conditions, the instrument autonomously suspended its operations as a safety precaution.
A team of instrument system engineers, Wide Field Camera 3 instrument developers, and other experts formed and quickly began collecting all available telemetry and onboard memory information to determine the sequence of events that caused the values to go out of limits. This team is currently working to identify the root cause and then to construct a recovery plan. If a significant hardware failure is identified, redundant electronics built into the instrument will be used to recover and return it to operations.
The telescope continues to operate normally, executing observations with the other three instruments — the Advanced Camera for Surveys, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph — that are all performing nominally.
Originally required to last 15 years, Hubble has now been operating for more than 28. The final servicing mission in 2009, expected to extend Hubble’s lifetime an additional five years, has now produced more than nine years of science observations. During that servicing mission, astronauts installed the Wide Field Camera 3.
Hubble operations, like other satellite operations, are excepted activities as defined in the NASA furlough/shutdown plan. The current partial government shutdown is therefore not expected to have an impact on the recovery of the instrument to normal operations.