Hubble Space Telescope's camera eye, the Wide Field Camera 3, temporarily shuts down because of a hardware problem. It is not all bad news, however.
While an investigation surrounding the malfunction is ongoing, Hubble will still proceed to do science observations with three other instruments.
Hubble's Camera Eye Suffers Malfunction
In a short statement on Wednesday, Jan. 9, NASA confirmed that Wide Field Camera 3 is currently offline due to a malfunction. According to the U.S. space agency, Wide Field Camera 3 comes equipped with redundant electronics in case it needs to be recovered.
The said glitch took place on Jan. 8 at 12:23 p.m. EST, according to the official press release. However, NASA has not given additional details on what triggered the hardware problem. As of now, it remains unknown how much time is required to fix the issues.
Tom Brown, the mission head at Hubble's contractor Space Telescope Science Institute, said that Hubble has three other active cameras: the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). All three instruments continue to collect observations despite that Wide Field Camera 3 is down.
Brown added that the teams are hard at work troubleshooting the glitch, saying that a system reboot might be the best solution to fix the error.
The news comes on the heels of a partial shutdown of NASA as well as other federal agencies of the U.S. government since Dec. 22 as President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress have not yet agreed on a budget.
Brightest Quasar Ever
NASA has some good news, however. On Twitter, the space agency revealed that Hubble has taken a photograph of the brightest quasar ever in the early universe, which is equivalent to the brightness of 600 trillion suns.
This very distant quasar has been magnified and split into three images due to the gravitational field of a foreground galaxy. The quasar would have gone undetected if not for the power of gravitational lensing, which boosted its brightness 50x #AAS233 https://t.co/fLZnQXBVYe pic.twitter.com/Uv3lYjRBNx — Hubble (@NASAHubble) January 9, 2019
Hubble Space Telescope was installed in 1990 during the Service Mission 4 with an initial cost of $1.5 billion.