Development of the Second Generation Wide Field Planetary Camera for HST

With the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour early next month, the fate of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope will rest in the skilled hands of five experienced astronauts whose demanding tasks will include installing corrective optics made necessary by the telescope's precisely polished, but tragically flawed, 2.4 m diameter main mirror. The corrective optics for the telescope's centrally located instrument, the Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC), are incorporated in an entirely new version of the 280 kg (618 lb.) instrument. Like its perfectly-functioning predecessor, WFPC II will re-image the focal plane of the telescope onto large-format electronic detector arrays through a selection of 48 spectral filters ranging from far-ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths, and will offer a choice of two magnifications. The second generation instrument was already under construction as a backup when the telescope was launched in 1990.

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