First Shots From Upgraded Orbiter

A dusty pillar lit from within by newborn stars is among the first cosmic beauties snapped by the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), a new instrument installed in May during the final servicing mission to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope.

The WFC3 replaces the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, the longest working instrument aboard the orbiting observatory. That camera was responsible for some of Hubble's most iconic pictures, and WFC3 is expected to become one of the next most popular instruments: It's already scheduled to be used in over half of the spacecraft's observations over the next year.

"The installation of the Wide Field Camera was a little touch and go, but I'm happy to say it's working beautifully at the moment," Bob O'Connell, chair of the science oversight committee for the instrument, told reporters today at a press conference.


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