Wide Field Planetary Camera II (WFPC 2) Hubble, Flown

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This is the original, flown Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) that was installed on the Hubble Space Telescope in December 1993, and removed during the last servicing mission in 2009. When the Hubble primary mirror was found to be faulty soon after launch in 1990, NASA decided to replace WFPC with a "clone" with adjusted optics to counteract the optical errors created by the flawed primary mirror. The clone also had improved performance, mainly with more robust charge coupled device detectors (CCDs) that would not degrade when flooded with ultraviolet light. Budget cuts also led to a simpler design wherein the light beam was split to feed a single set of the four improved detectors.

Although WFPC2 is not unique in its function, it is the camera which made the Hubble Space Telescope famous and revolutionized the popular conception of the nature of deep space objects. WFPC2 was modified from a spare instrument in storage at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Images from WFPC2 are a mosaic built from three or four cameras operating simultaneously.

After return from space WFPC2 was briefly displayed at NASM in 2009, then it travelled to JPL and elsewhere, returning to public exhibit at NASM in 2014 as a transfer from NASA. Engineering inspection and evaluation at various NASA centers included coring out tiny impact craters on the white radiator which had been exposed to space for some 17 years. Those core holes, far larger than the impacting particles, can be seen in the object now.