NASA gives update on Hubble Space Telescope health, and why its halted

NASA has published an update on the health of its Hubble Space Telescope and why some of its key instruments are offline.

Published Wed, Nov 17 2021 5:31 AM CST

Since late October, NASA and the European Space Agency's (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope has been mostly out-of-order as it experienced a glitch.

NASA gives update on Hubble Space Telescope health, and why its halted 01 |

Engineers found that the glitch has something to do with the synchronization of its internal communications, and as a result of the failure to sync correctly, the space telescope puts all of its instruments into safety mode to prevent any potential damage that could be caused.

On November 7, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) was brought back online, and now according to NASA, "the Hubble team has identified near-term changes that could be made to how the instruments monitor and respond to missed synchronization messages, as well as to how the payload computer monitors the instruments." Adding, "This would allow science operations to continue even if several missed messages occur. The team has also continued analyzing the instrument flight software to verify that all possible solutions would be safe for the instruments."

NASA has said that a full recovery for Hubble likely won't happen for a while as the agency tests out new ways to work around the fail-safes that are integrated into Hubble's system. The team working on recovering the famous space telescope will be testing the efficacy of these new changes over the next week, and then select an instrument to test them on.

Here's what NASA wrote in its update:

This upcoming week, the team will begin to determine the order to recover the remaining instruments, including schedules for changing the instrument parameters before testing and developing the procedures. They also will test these changes to ensure they work as planned while continuing to isolate the root cause of the error.

The team expects it will take several weeks to complete these activities for the first instrument. The team has not yet determined which instrument would receive these changes first. In the meantime, they will start taking steps to recover Wide Field Camera 3 with no new changes next week, as was done with the Advanced Camera for Surveys, as an interim and low-risk step toward resuming normal science operations.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science and space news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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