Hubble's Instruments: WFPC1 — Wide Field and Planetary Camera 1

The Wide Field/Planetary Camera 1 (WFPC1, also known as WF/PC) was the original main camera installed onboard at launch in 1990. The camera itself worked flawlessly, though Hubble’s mirror problem reduced the sharpness of its images.

Before Hubble’s launch, work had already begun on the construction of the second generation camera, WFPC2. To compensate for the improper curvature of Hubble’s main mirror, a modification was built into WFPC2’s optics which precisely corrected the focus.

WFPC1 was exchanged with WFPC2 during the First Servicing Mission. WFPC1 made many remarkable results during its three years in space, although these have since been outclassed by the images from WFPC2, ACS and WFC3, Hubble’s newer instruments.

By a curious twist of fate, 16 years after being taken back to Earth, parts of WFPC1 were reinstalled on Hubble during the final Servicing Mission in 2009. Hubble’s new WFC3 camera reuses a number of components that were recovered from its predecessor.

WFPC1 Facts

Instrument type Camera
Field of view Wide Field (WF) f/12.9 - 2.6 x 2.6 arcminutes Planetary Camera (PC) f/30 - 66 x 66 arcseconds
Resolution 0.043 arcsecond (pixel size Planetary Camera)
Wavelength range 115 to 1000 nm

 

WFPC1 back on the ground again.

WFPC1 back on the ground again.

A typical image taken with WFPC1. Note that the stars seem somewhat more fuzzy than seen in images taken with WFPC2.

A typical image taken with WFPC1. Note that the stars seem somewhat more fuzzy than seen in images taken with WFPC2.