The Hubble telescope (I’m sorry, “Space Observatory”) recently got a big upgrade – in addition to a new camera, it got two repairs that made the observatory capable of all kinds of new awesomeness. From the press release at NASA:
“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the quality of the images from the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and repaired Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), and the spectra from the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS),” said Keith Noll, leader of a team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which planned the early release observations. “The targets we’ve selected to showcase the telescope reveal the great range of capabilities in our newly upgraded Hubble.”
These results are compelling evidence of the success of the STS-125 servicing mission in May, which has brought the space observatory to the apex of its scientific performance. Two new instruments, the WFC3 and COS, were installed, and two others, the ACS and STIS, were repaired at the circuit board level. Mission scientists also announced Wednesday that the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer was brought back into operation during the three months of calibration and testing.
“On this mission we wanted to replenish the ‘tool kit’ of Hubble instruments on which scientists around the world rely to carry out their cutting-edge research,” said David Leckrone, senior project scientist for Hubble at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Prior to this servicing mission, we had only three unique instrument channels still working, and today we have 13. I’m very proud to be able to say, ‘mission accomplished.’ “
Is it cheesy for me to say that these images are out of this world? They truly are – check them out, they’re amazing.
First image – NGC 6302, a butterfly-shaped nebula surrounding a dying star:
Second image – a galactic clash of Stephan’s Quintet:
Third image – the huge cluster of Omega Centauri, and 100,000 stars in that cluster:
Last image for now – a freaky pillar of star birth in the Carina Nebula:
Thanks, Hubble Site!