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Hubble Telescope Repair
News Bytes 07/21/2021 5 Comments

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is back in action after a tricky remote repair job. A computer glitch had halted the telescope’s observations for over a month. Space scientists old and new came together for an out-of-this-world computer fix.

Launched in 1990, Hubble has been roaming the universe for over 31 years. The telescope has made more than 1.5 million observations. But the orbiting observatory went dark in mid-June, and all astronomical viewing from it stopped.

At first, NASA scientists suspected a 1980s-era computer was the problem. But after the backup payload computer also failed, flight controllers at Maryland’s Goddard Space Flight Center focused on the science instruments’ bigger and more encompassing command and data unit.

To fix the telescope, NASA called upon former Hubble scientists. Out of retirement and from across the country, Hubble alumni joined to support the current NASA team. Some of the telescope’s original builders offered insider knowledge of the instrument’s workings. Others analyzed Hubble’s early paperwork for clues as to possible problems.

The idea that many scientists worked together on the Hubble problem is intriguing—and refreshing! Imagine if one group had been too proud to ask for help or if another said that was no longer his or her job. The Bible speaks often about working together to accomplish great things. “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil” (Ecclesiastes 4:9) and “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133:1) both emphasize the idea of teamwork.

The Hubble repair took two weeks. More than 50 scientists analyzed, updated, reviewed, and tested the procedures to switch to backup hardware. Last Thursday, engineers successfully changed Hubble over. The backup computer kicked in, and observations successfully restarted on Saturday, July 17.

The telescope’s targets this past weekend included several unusual galaxies, including a glimpse at two colliding galaxies. “I’m thrilled to see that Hubble has its eye back on the universe, once again capturing the kind of images that have intrigued and inspired us for decades,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson says.

“We have so much to learn from this next chapter of Hubble’s life,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s science mission chief. “I couldn’t be more excited about what the Hubble team has achieved over the past few weeks. They’ve met the challenges of this process head on, ensuring that Hubble’s days of exploration are far from over.”

NASA has sponsored five previous missions to repair the telescope. A similar switch took place in 2008 after part of the older system failed.

NASA plans to launch Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, by year’s end.

“It’s been humbling and inspiring to engage with folks who’ve been around for forever to folks who’ve only recently joined the team to make sure that we can all come together and get the telescope back up and running,” Nzinga Tull, Hubble Anomaly Response Manager, said in an interview on Twitter. She ended her comments with, “Go, Hubble!”

(The giant Hubble Space Telescope can be seen suspended in space by Discovery’s Remote Manipulator System following deployment of part of its solar panels and antennae on April 25, 1990. NASA via AP)

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Most recent comments

1st comment

its cool that so many scientists worked together to fix a problem

Agreed.

Agreed.

Is it me or are there less

Is it me or are there less and less comments on these past articles on here?

@ Kiara

There are definitely less comments, however, there also haven't been many political articles which tend to start debates/arguments

Teledyne

My brother's company works for the company that makes sensors for the hubble and james webb telescope!

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