October 30, 2008

Hubble Space Telescope

The U.S. space agency's Hubble Space Telescope is back in operation after malfunctioning last month.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which operates Hubble for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said NASA engineers succeeded in restoring the telescope's main camera to working order.

The failure of the instrument delayed a planned space shuttle servicing mission to upgrade and repair the orbiting observatory.

The institute said newly acquired images captured by the repaired Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 were equal in quality to what the telescope was delivering before it malfunctioned Sept. 27.

"After several weeks of intense efforts to switch operations over from the failed instrument to an 18-year-old backup that had never been used, the process was successfully completed this week," institute officials said. "The first new images were taken Oct. 27 and 28 and show a pair of galaxies about 400 million light-years from Earth in the constellation of Cetus."

The Hubble Space Telescope was carried into orbit by space shuttle Discovery in April 1990. It is named for the late U.S. astronomer Edwin Hubble.