HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE’S PRE­MIER CAM­ERA SHUTS DOWN

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The Hubble Space Telescope’s pre­mier cam­era has shut down be­cause of a hard­ware prob­lem.

NASA said the cam­era stopped work­ing Tues­day. Hubble’s three other sci­ence in­stru­ments are still work­ing fine, with ce­les­tial ob­ser­va­tions con­tin­u­ing.

This third in­car­na­tion of the wide field cam­era was in­stalled by space­walk­ing as­tro­nauts in 2009. The cam­era has backup elec­tron­ics that could be called into ac­tion, if nec­es­sary, ac­cord­ing to NASA.

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. This is the first time the cam­era has acted up like this, said Ch­eryl Gundy, a spokes­woman with the Space Telescope Sci­ence In­sti­tute in Bal­ti­more, which han­dle sci­ence op­er­a­tions for the telescope.

“NASA is try­ing to pull to­gether the team to try to di­ag­nose the is­sue,” Gundy said Wed­nes­day.

“We would like to have Hubble back up and work­ing as quickly as pos­si­ble, and NASA is mak­ing that hap­pen,” even with the par­tial govern­ment shut­down, she added.

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