Advanced Camera For Surveys Anomaly On Hubble Space Telescope

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA

March 2, 2019 – At 6:31 p.m. MST on February 28, the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope suspended operations after an error was detected as the instrument was performing a routine boot procedure. The error indicated that software inside the camera had not loaded correctly.

A team of instrument system engineers, flight software experts and flight operations personnel quickly organized to download and analyze instrument diagnostic information. This team is currently working to identify the root cause and then to construct a recovery plan.

The Hubble telescope continues to operate normally, executing observations with the other three science instruments — the Wide Field Camera 3, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph — that are all performing nominally. There are no critical observations using the Advanced Camera for Surveys scheduled for the remainder of this week or next week, and the observations that were planned over the next two weeks can be easily rescheduled.

Originally required to last 15 years, Hubble has now been operating for more than 28 years. 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 repaired the Advanced Camera for Surveys, installed in 2002, after its power supply failed in 2007.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.

The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), installed during Servicing Mission 3 in 2002, doubled Hubble’s field of view with sharper image quality and more sensitive detectors. The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), installed during Servicing Mission 4 in 2009, updated Hubble’s visible and ultraviolet light imagers for higher performance. Both of these instruments were built by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado.