|Hubble's Sees Clearly Now
Astronauts from NASA's STS-61 crew install the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 on the Hubble Space Telescope, accomplishing one of the most complex maneuvers in Shuttle mission history. The installation took nearly 11 days and 5 spacewalks, an all-time record. Image credit: NASA
Also known as "the camera that saved Hubble," the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, or WFPC2, served as the principal imaging instrument on the Hubble Space Telescope for 25-plus years, producing more than 135,000 of the most stunning photographs of the universe ever seen.
The camera that saved Hubble was actually not the camera that originally launched with the space telescope in 1990. The original Wide Field and Planetary Camera was not able to focus correctly due to a tiny error in the curvature of Hubble's main mirror, so in December 1993 astronauts replaced the camera with a second-generation version, WFPC2. In May 2009, astronauts installed a more advanced Imaging system on Hubble and brought WFPC2 back to Earth, where it is on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington.