Hubble’s Advanced Camera For Surveys Resumes Operations

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA

March 9, 2019 – NASA has recovered the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument, which suspended operations on Thursday, February 28. The final tests were conducted and the instrument was brought back to its operational mode on March 6.

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 in a small section of computer memory. The Hubble operations team ran repeated tests to reload the memory and check the entire process.

No errors have been detected since the initial incident, and it appears that all circuits, computer memory and processors that are part of that boot process are now operating normally. The instrument has now been brought back to its standard operating mode for normal operations.   

The Advanced Camera for Surveys, built by Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, was installed in 2002. The instrument was repaired during the last servicing mission to Hubble in 2009, after its power supply failed in 2007. More than 5,500 peer-reviewed scientific papers have been published from its data, and it is credited with some of Hubble’s most iconic images, including the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, the farthest look into the universe at that time.

Hubble itself is in its 29th year of operations, well surpassing its original 15-year lifetime. With its primary and backup systems, it is expected that Hubble will operate simultaneously with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope to obtain multiwavelength observations of astronomical objects. Scheduled to launch in 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope is designed to see near- and mid-infrared light while Hubble is optimized for ultraviolet and visible light.