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Space & Planetary Science

Echoes of Hubble Trouble

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
June 16, 2005

Space camera flaw traced to earthly mirror, MSNBC

“The optical flaw that blurred the vision of NASAs comet-smashing Deep Impact probe has been tentatively diagnosed as the result of overlooking a simple law of physics, sources familiar with the investigation have told”

NASA to clear up comet hunter’s blurry vision, Rocky Mountain News

“The problem has been traced to a mirror used when the HRI was tested at Ball, the space agency said. While flat at room temperatures, the mirror unexpectedly developed a slight curvature during testing at ultra-cold temperatures. Ball engineers didn’t detect the curvature at the time.”

Editor’s note: Of course, when it comes to performance/award fee time for Deep Impact, NASA probably won’t have the courage to ding Ball for this dumb mistake. I wonder (in this era of full cost acocunting) who pays for all the work performed to fix the bad optics with a software workaround.

And why is it that NASA makes no mention of this camera problem in the otherwise highly detailed press release it issued on Deep Impact on 9 June? All the press release says is “A camera and infrared spectrometer, which comprise the High Resolution Instrument, are carried on the flyby spacecraft, along with a Medium Resolution Instrument. A duplicate of the Medium Resolution Instrument on the impactor will record the vehicle’s final moments before it is run over by Tempel 1.” There is mention, however in the mission’s press kit.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.