The Hubble Space Telescope has spent more than three decades bringing us glorious images and data of our universe. But the spaceship is showing its age. The Hubble team is currently fixing an issue with the telescope’s payload computer – a piece of hardware built in the 1980s – that controls its scientific instruments.
The computer problem arose on Sunday. “After analyzing the data, the Hubble operations team is investigating whether a degrading memory module caused the computer to shut down,” NASA said in a statement Wednesday. Hubble is a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency.
“After the shutdown on Sunday, the main computer stopped receiving a ‘keep-alive’ signal, which is a standard handshake between the payload and the spacecraft’s main computers to indicate that all is well.” , NASA said. “The main computer then automatically placed all scientific instruments into a safe mode configuration.”
The Hubble team has already tried restarting the payload computer, but encountered the same issue again. The team will try to switch to a backup module today. If this goes well, the computer will run for a day to verify that it is working, and then the telescope will restart its scientific instruments to put it back into service.
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The telescope has overcome a series of technical problems in recent years. Afor several days in March.
Hubble has been remarkably resilient as scientists wait for the much-delayed next generationto launch, hopefully later this year. James Webb will continue to build on Hubble’s legacy.
If past efforts are any indication, Hubble is likely to persevere with the latter problem and resume its valuable scientific operations.
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