Explore The Universe

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Featured Artifacts

Hubble Space Telescope
Wide-Field/Planetary Camera (WF/PC)

The Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble was designed for long-term use and to be serviced in orbit every few years by Space Shuttle astronauts. The light gathered by its single large mirror is directed to several cameras and spectrographs that can record visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Several Hubble instruments, including some retrieved from space, are displayed in this gallery. A full-size test version of the Hubble is in the Space Race exhibition.



The Hubble's Original Camera

These optical elements are from the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide-Field/Planetary Camera, or WF/PC ("WIF-pik"). WF/PC was part of the Hubble when it was placed in orbit in 1990. The camera was retrieved by Space Shuttle astronauts in 1993 and replaced with WFPC-2, a similar instrument with tiny optical alterations to compensate for a flaw in the shape of the Hubble's main mirror.

WF/PC was two cameras in one. Light could be directed to either of two sets of sensors: wide-field sensors for viewing broad areas of the sky, or narrow-field (planetary) sensors for viewing small, bright objects, such as planets or moons. The sensors' CCD chips could record images in visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Most of the spectacular images returned by the Hubble were taken by WF/PC's successor, WFPC-2.

Built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Transferred from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


CCD from the Hubble's WF/PC Camera

800 x 800 pixels
Total: 640,000 pixels
The CCD chips available for use on the Hubble were not very powerful by today's standards. They contained just over 6/10ths of a megapixel (1 million pixels), the unit now used to rate the size of a CCD.

Donated by Scientific Imaging Technologies, Inc.



Other Featured Artifacts in this section of the exhibit:
Hubble Space Telescope Backup Mirror
Penzias and Wilson Pigeon Trap
High Resolution Imager (HRI)

Also In the Museum:
Hubble Space Telescope (Test Vehicle)
, on display in the "Space Race" exhibition.

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