Making the Most of a Short Life

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Science  07 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5340, pp. 1008
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5340.1008

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Problems with the cooling system for Hubble's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), one of two new instruments astronauts installed on the telescope in February, have forced one of its three cameras out of focus and cut its life expectancy by more than half. The efforts to complete as much science as possible during NICMOS's shortened lifetime are disrupting observing schedules on other instruments. And NASA is even planning to move the telescope's secondary mirror for a few weeks next January to sharpen some NICMOS observations--an adjustment that astronomers say carries a small, but real, chance of leaving other instruments permanently out of focus.