The Last WFPC2 Image from Hubble

By Julianne Dalcanton | May 13, 2009 9:41 am
next to last picture from WFPC2

During their rendezvous with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the Astronaut Repair and Wrecking Crew will be decommissioning HST’s longest serving instrument — the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, known as “wiff-pick-too”. NASA has been, correctly, describing WFPC2 as “The Camera the Saved Hubble” (see this video for a nice history). They’ve also been touting the last “pretty picture” taken by WFPC2 — a rather nifty planetary nebula

However, while K4-55 may be the last officially pretty picture, I’m absurdly stoked that the very last picture will be one taken by a program that my team and I are running. I knew there was a good chance, based upon a schedule we got a week and a half ago, but I wasn’t sure exactly when they’d safe the telescope.

IC 5152

But, sure enough, we snagged the “last ever” spot (as Steinn deduced before I was planning on outing myself)! The last WFPC2 exposure ended at 21:03:12 on May 11th, the evening after the launch. It was of IC5152 — a dwarf galaxy in the local universe.

I’m not quite sure why I’m so excited by this, but I suppose it’s that this is a camera I essentially grew up with (scientifically speaking). I was in grad school when HST launched, and when the tragic flaw in the mirror was found. WFPC2 was installed before I graduated, so I got to see HST restored to glory before I set forth as a scientist. It’s nice to be sending it off in style.

I’ll add a pretty picture of the real last WFPC2 image as soon as we make one!

UPDATE: Just to clarify, IC5152 was the last General Observer image. There was one more “snapshot” photo taken of a galaxy cluster by Eberling and friends. Both should be purty!


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