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One of HST's Cameras Is Back In Action 47

StupendousMan writes "One of the two big cameras aboard the Hubble Space Telescope is the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, or WFPC2 for short. As the most recent HST status report indicates, the camera was recently powered up again and sent commands to take some test images. Today (Sunday, Oct 26), I received E-mail from a colleague at STScI indicating that the calibration images were 'nominal.' That's NASA-speak for 'fine and dandy.' The E-mail goes on to say 'The data look nominal, indicating that Hubble optical imaging capabilities are in fine shape. (We can expect more glorious Hubble images in the near future.) ... Science with WFPC2 has resumed, and plans are underway to restore ACS/SBC to service this coming week.' Let's hope that the other big instrument, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), also comes back to life successfully. We should find out in just a week or so."
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One of HST's Cameras Is Back In Action

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  • by JackassJedi ( 1263412 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:26PM (#25521617)
    Hopefully they will also be able to restore functionality to WPSHU (Whatever Propulsion System Hubble Uses), so we can get a nice DOL (Direct Oriented Look) on the STARS (Stars That ARe Special). If not, I will commit SWABBL (Suicide With A Big, Big fraking Lens) and then BLAH (Burn Like A Hubble inferno) like Pinback on bomb #20!
    • by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:04PM (#25521881)
      Sorry, I got a little lost with your technical talk there. Could you please repost this with a slashdot friendly car analogy?
      • by JackassJedi ( 1263412 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:19PM (#25521997)
        Basically you have this nice Mercedes, but instead of a windshield the front is fully closed.

        How bad can it be, right? you think, so you drive straight on, hit your fence really hard, break through and stagger down the road until you hit right the front window of Aunt Elma's bakery.

        All the buns drop and scatter over the floor and onto the walkway, and a sudden bystander drops her marmalade, which gives you a dissociated orange marmalade jelly bun inversion.

        The resulting proton and muon-neutrino particle emission burns a big hole into your windshield, just SLIGHTLY missing your head, and finally you can see.

        The resulting Schroedinger waveform collapse from you suddenly looking at the buns, the marmalade, the woman who dropped the marmalade and Aunt Elma causes a time paradox which results in you repeating the event forever and ever, that is, until you realize, that you're NOT the final cylon, because, you just can't be (can you?).
    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Pinback: All right, Hubble. Prepare to receive new orders.
      Hubble: You are false data.
      Pinback: Hmmm?
      Hubble: Therefore I shall ignore you.
      Pinback: Hello... Hubble?
      Hubble: False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore, I shall refuse to perceive.
      Pinback: Hey, Hubble?
      Hubble: The only thing that exists is myself.
      Pinback: Snap out of it, Hubble.

  • Aliens (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So the aliens have finished their flyby?

  • Good To Hear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quanticle ( 843097 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:48PM (#25521769) Homepage

    While this is good news, its still important to remember that Hubble is running on backup systems, and that whatever redundancy was built into the original design is largely used up. Hopefully this will allow NASA to push the scheduled repair mission forward.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:54PM (#25522189)

      Good news?

      No, this is definitely not good news. This means that the Hubble knows how to fix its injuries. It also probably means that the Hubble has attained consciousness. How happy do you think that the Hubble is going to be when it realizes that we intend to attach a rocket to it so that we can burn it up in the atmosphere? If the Hubble can pull an advanced camera out of the vacuum of space, it could probably also pull out a giant anti-matter bomb that could annihilate the Earth.

      There is only one safe course of action. We must launch a surprise nuclear attack on the Hubble before it can adapt any further.

  • by Overkill Nbuta ( 1035654 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @07:53PM (#25521807)
    The glitch is gone.
  • by Einer2 ( 665985 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @08:17PM (#25521981)
    The Solar Blind Channel (the least useful component of ACS, unless you happen to use it) is the only component coming back. The Wide Field Channel and High Resolution Channel, the real workhorses, aren't coming back until after the Servicing Mission. Even then, the ACS repair is on the bottom of their priority list since most of its functionality is duplicated (albeit not as well) by the optical channel of WFC3. This means that the ACS repair, perhaps along with the STIS repair, most likely will be crowded out of the schedule by replacement of the instrument control computer.
    • by Betelgeuse ( 35904 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:07PM (#25522273) Homepage

      Yeah. No one really cares about the SBC. Hopefully they'll fix the rest of the ACS channels on their trip up.

      The only good news about this most recent failure is that it's relatively easy to replace the electronics; it was designed to be replaced and is mounted on a door on HST that they were planning on opening anyway. The only concern is that the replacement hasn't been used in over 18 years (i.e. since HST went up). But, the general thought is that the replacement of the data handling computer shouldn't necessarily bump any of the planned parts of SM4. I also think that ACS is above STIS on their priority list, so hopefully ACS is still likely to be fixed.

    • by ChrisCampbell47 ( 181542 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:54PM (#25522951)

      This means that the ACS repair, perhaps along with the STIS repair, most likely will be crowded out of the schedule by replacement of the instrument control computer.

      Sh*t, I knew this would get modded up to +5. NOT "most likely" at all. Everyone at all of the briefings has been saying over and over that they can "most likely" fit this into the existing plan, without pushing out any of the other repairs. They've said it would take about 1.5-2.0 hours of EVA timeline.

      Assuming the ACS and STIS repairs go well (and that is indeed a big assumption) they'll have plenty of time.

      Now, it is true that the ACS repair is not the highest priority, and they already weren't planning on getting around to it until EVA 3. And the SI/CDH repair is looking to be an EVA 1 task, since it IS indeed a high priority. But don't say it's likely to push ACS out, because it's not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Einer2 ( 665985 )
        Well, there's a lot of gloomy talk circulating among people whose Cycle 17 programs are directly affected by this. This means that either the PR people at STScI are being excessively optimistic or the liaisons to the community aren't quashing rumors very effectively.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Hmmm, could be. I guess we'll see in a few weeks when they make the STS-125 decision, and when they come out with the reworked timeline.
  • Sorry! When I first read this and saw that they could see a test image as normal. I was thinking if those guys have any senses of humor or not? For me, I would have enjoyed it if they pointed the telescope back to earth, zoom in on their own office building and moon the camera from a balcony. "Yep, you can see the freckle on Joe's butt just fine! Well done Joe! Nice photo of the moon!"
    • by Whiteox ( 919863 )

      Exactly damnit! Why don't they do that?
      Gee, If I had a telescope that big, I would check out other things than stars and space. Ahem... I wouldn't be interested in looking at Joe's butt-freckle though. I can think of other, more alluring bits of anatomy to spy on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kligat ( 1244968 )

        How much something can be magnified with a telescope is attainable through simple trigonometry. At 589km above Earth, a kilometer is about 180 arcseconds. The Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2's field of vision is about 164 arcseconds. Anything the Hubble would spot would be as interesting as a random Google Earth image, and besides, the Hubble Telescope orbits Earth at 5,700 m/s and probably wasn't designed to cope with that velocity just to target Earth.

        As far as the Moon, I'd guess it would probably make

        • As far as the Moon, I'd guess it would probably make a poor calibration target, because it is just so big.

          The main issue here, though, is that it is bright as a bastard (non-SI unit). The photon flux would fry the CCDs beyond practical use. There is, oddly enough, a grain of truth in the original post — HST does observe the Earth on occasion for calibration purposes. They are used to determine the pixel-to-pixel response of the instruments; they are uninteresting otherwise, because of the orbital

        • I said moon not Moon. If you've never seen a moon, then you haven't laughed out loud. If you think I was talking about the object circling the earth, I would hope that you read the post again and get what I am suggesting. It's more interesting than talking about the Moon.

  • This just reminds me of possibly one of the greatest cartoons of all time - in my humble opinion that is.

    It was a Gary Larson (sorely missed, but much respected) daily shortly after the launch with a picture of a blurry UFO with two equally blurry aliens waving to the camera with the caption "Another fine photo from the Hubble Space Telescope" (or words to that effect).

    Obviously the joke does not have to be explained to *this* crowd. Genius.
  • HST (Score:4, Funny)

    by Devoidoid ( 1207090 ) on Sunday October 26, 2008 @09:22PM (#25522367)
    When I read the headline I thought it had something to do with a secret surveillance network left behind by Hunter S. Thompson.
    • I thought "Thompson" too when I first read the headline. The "Camera" business would have fit, too, because when he was first starting out as a journalist he wanted to be a photojournalist.
    • by Thing 1 ( 178996 )
      Agreed; I tagged this "!huntersthompson" before I saw your post. :)
  • by PaganRitual ( 551879 ) <> on Sunday October 26, 2008 @10:37PM (#25522843)
    the calibration images were 'nominal.' That's NASA-speak for 'fine and dandy

    It also sounds so much better when spoken by a sultry female computer, normally just after your Jade Falcon TimberWolf as touched down on a hostile alien world.

    Hubble speaks in a sultry female voice, right, right?
  • First read "HST" in the title as Hunter S. Thompson.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      And when I saw the headline I wondered what was special about Harry Truman's cameras, and why would slashdot be interested?
      I guess HST is a generationally-biased acronym.
  • Hubble isn't malfunctioning, it has been turned around and now is looking in your backyard for terrerists. Wake up sheeple.

  • And now for some political and technological dynamite! No, sorry actually - just a rather trivial question about language, and not even a programming one.

    ...the calibration images were 'nominal'

    Just out of curiosity - what is this about the word 'nominal'? According to the Wiktionary, 'nominal' has a number of meanings, including: "Of, resembling, relating to, or consisting of a name or names" and "Insignificantly small; trifling", both of which make sense, considering that it comes from 'nomen' (='name'). It also means "According to plan or des

    • "the calibration images were according to design" Can you really glean no meaning from that?
      • Oh, I forgot: does the above effect your understanding?
      • Can you really glean no meaning from that?

        Well, trust a guy called "lazynomer" to not read or understand what I wrote and then go on to rebuke me for not understanding; ironic, really. As I pointed out, the dictionary offers the interpretation that you suggest; I just can't see how that meaning fits in with other, more natural meanings. I also tried to lighten the tone of my posting by joking about it - I suppose my error was that I used something akin to sarcasm without surrounding it with "[sracasm] ... [/sarcasm]". My fault entirely (whoops, the

        • Oh, come on; like you I was aiming for sarcasm and levity -- I just forgot to include the xkcd line. But all right; how about this: "a: existing or being something in name or form only [...] b: of, being, or relating to a designated or theoretical size that may vary from the actual" ( So the shift of meaning could have been: "what something is called" > "what sth. theoretically is"/"what sth. shold be". What do you think?
          • nominal a US word meaning running within normal parameters. And this is NASA if they didn't intentionally use abbreviations and long words they would lose there reputation for being smart (ok PAST reputation)
  • Clearly this means the aliens have had a chance to figure out how the telescope works and alter it so that it conveniently fails to see their massive flotilla en route to Earth.

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. -- Christopher Morley