National Aeronautics andSpace Administration
Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Maryland 20771
Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission 3A
FINE GUIDANCE SENSOR
The Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) is an opticalsensor used on the Hubble Space Telescope to pro-vide pointing information for the spacecraft andalso as a scientific instrument for astrometric sci-ence.A FGS consists of a large structure housing acollection of mirrors, lenses, servos, prisms,beam-splitters and photomultiplier tubes.There are three fine guidance sensors onHubble located at 90-degree intervals around thecircumference of the telescope. Two FGSs areused to point the telescope at an astronomical tar-get and hold that target in the scientific instru-ment’s field of view. The thirdFGS can thenbe used as as c i e n t i f i cinstrument forastrometry.
The fineguidance sen-sors are one of the sensorsused byH u b b l e ’ spointing con-trol system topoint the telescope at a target with an accuracy of 0.01 arcsec. What is an arcsec? An arcsec is thewidth of a paperclip wire viewed from the distanceof two football fields. With this fine precision, theguidance sensors lock on to a star and then mea-sure any apparent motion to an accuracy of 0.0028arsec. This gives Hubble the ability to remainpointed at that target with no more than 0.007 arc-sec of deviation over long periods of time. Thislevel of stability and precision is comparable tobeing able to hold a laser beam focused on a dimethat is 200 miles away (the distance fromWashington D.C. to New York City).
Astrometry is the science that deals with thedetermination of precise positions and motions of stars. The FGS’s can provide star positions that areabout 10 times more precise than those observedfrom a ground based telescope.When used for astrometric science the fineguidance sensors will let Hubble:• Search for a wobble in the motion of nearby starsthat could indicate the presence of a planetarycompanion.• Determine if certain stars really are double stars.• Measure the angular diameter of stars, galaxiesand other celestial objects.
Cutaway view of a FineGuidance Sensor.