The Hubble Telescope Has Shut Down And Gone Into Safe Mode

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NASA has just shared grave news via a blog post. Apparently, Hubble is on its last breaths and is barely hanging on. This 30-year-old telescope might be reaching its limits. Frankly, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. The recent fault is due to the memory board which was apparently last serviced in 2009.

NASA posted just yesterday that the Hubble Space Telescope was facing serious computer issues. The problem is that most of NASA’s science instruments and thingamajigs are controlled by the onboard computer causing the orbital observatory to be in idle mode since when it shut down.

The computer is the payload computer and its purpose is to control and coordinate the science instruments onboard the spacecraft. The fault made the main computer put all the science instruments in a safe mode configuration. The sad part is that this is the latest in a series of minor issues that have been plaguing the telescope in recent years due to its age.

Flight controllers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, to try and fix the issue but Hubble shut down again on Monday. Now the team is trying to switch the telescope’s computer to a backup memory board since the existing one is faulty. If this does the trick, the Hubble will have to go through a round of tests for a whole day before NASA even attempts to restart the science instruments again.

According to NASA’s blog post “The payload computer is a NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer-1 (NSSC-1) system built in the 1980s. It is part of the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling module, which was replaced during the last astronaut servicing mission in 2009. The module has various levels of redundancy which can be switched on to serve as the primary system when necessary”.

The good news is that Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope is slated to launch later this year but will the old telescope even survive to see its successor launch into space? Only time will tell but rest assured that NASA’s team is doing all it can.

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