Hubble Space Telescope Team Continues to Solve Instrument Problem


The Hubble Space Telescope is on its way back from its latest problem, but it’s not yet close to the finish line.

At the end of October, the famous observatory experienced a problem with the synchronization of its internal communications, which took its five scientific instruments offline. The Hubble team returned one of these instruments, the Advanced Survey Camera (ACS), to service on November 7, but the other four remain in a protective “safe mode”.

Hubble managers continue to work to get these four up and running as well, and they’ve made some progress recently. For example, over the past week, “the Hubble team identified short-term changes that could be made to the way instruments monitor and respond to missed sync messages, as well as how the Payload computer monitors instruments, ”NASA officials wrote. in one Hubble update Tuesday (November 16).

Related: The best Hubble Space Telescope images of all time

“This would allow science operations to continue even if multiple missed messages occur,” they added. “The team also continued to analyze the instrument flight software to verify that all possible solutions would be instrument safe.”

Over the coming week, the team will test the effectiveness of these potential changes and begin to set a recovery order for all four instruments in Safe Mode. It will likely take several weeks to complete this work for whatever instrument you choose, NASA officials said. So a full recovery for Hubble isn’t exactly around the corner.

As this work progresses, the Hubble team will also begin to attempt to recover the Wide Field Camera 3 instrument without further changes, as was successfully done with the ACS earlier this month, ” as an intermediate, low-risk step toward resuming normal science operations, “NASA officials wrote in Tuesday’s update.

Hubble was launched into Earth orbit in April 1990. The famous telescope overcame a number of problems and challenges over the course of its career – the most famous, a faulty primary mirror, which was repaired by traveling astronauts in the world. space in 1993. Astronauts repaired, maintained and upgraded the Hubble on four other maintenance missions thereafter, the last of which was in 2009.

Today, Hubble’s top five scientific instruments are ACS, Wide Field Camera 3, Cosmic Origin Spectrograph, Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, and Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer. The telescope’s fine guide sensors can also and sometimes do scientific observations.

Mike Wall is the author of “The low“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about finding alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.


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