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New NICMOS images released
Posted: Fri, Jun 7, 2002, 10:13 AM ET (1413 GMT)
NICMOS image of Cone Nebula (NASA et al.) The first images from the Hubble Space Telescope's Near Infrared Camera and Multi Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) instrument in more than three years were released this week. The NICMOS images of one galaxy, NGC 4013, showed an edge-on ring of stars near the core of the galaxy, an unexpected find for astronomers. The images in general confirmed that the instrument is working well after lying dormant since 1999, when its original supply of solid nitrogen coolant ran out. During the STS-109 shuttle mission in March, astronomers installed a mechanical refrigeration unit that uses neon to cool NICMOS's infrared detectors to 77 kelvins (-196 degrees Celsius), allowing the instrument to operate again. The return to service of NICMOS means that the recent Hubble servicing mission is "a complete success," according to NASA officials.
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