SEATTLE — Despite a recent problem with one of its instruments, managers of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are confident that the mission can continue to operate well into the next decade.
NASA announced Jan. 8 that the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) instrument on Hubble suffered a hardware problem that forced it to suspend operations. Hubble observations using other instruments will continue, the agency said, while engineers diagnose the problem.
The instrument remains offline, but astronomers and others involved with Hubble at the 233rd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society here said they’re optimistic that the instrument can resume operations in the near future. Potential solutions to the problem range from a simple reset of the instrument to switching to a redundant set of electronics.
“Have no fear, that will be up again soon,” said Tom Brown, Hubble mission manager at the Space Telescope Science Institute, during a session about the future of the telescope at the conference Jan. 10. “Some of the most recent discussions I’ve been having seem to point to not needing to go to those redundant electronics” to fix WFC3.
The rest of the telescope is in good condition. Engineering analyses Brown presented at the conference ...