Connect with us
Advertisement

News

NASA Identifies ‘Possible Cause’ of Hubble Telescope Glitch

Published

on

Advertisement

Advertisement
The Hubble Space Telescope.

The Hubble Space Telescope.
Statue: NASA

The Hubble recovery team believes it has finally identified a problem that has kept the space telescope out of service for more than a month.

The problem started on June 13, when an on-board computer suddenly came to a halt. All scientific instruments on Hubble went into safe mode as a result, and have been doing so ever since. The telescope is otherwise fine, but normal operations have been suspended.

Advertisement

The problem is in the payload computer, which controls and monitors Hubble’s scientific instruments. It’s the most serious malfunction to torment Hubble in years, raising concerns that the aging telescope might finally be ready. Launched in 1990, Hubble has made more than 1.5 million observations and contributed significantly to our understanding of the solar system, galaxies and the universe in general.

Advertisement
unnamed
Advertisement

The Hubble recovery team has been trying all kinds of tests in recent weeks (a running list of measures taken can be seen can here), together with tried to reboot and reconfigure the payload computer, but nothing worked. Data collected during these attempts has led the team to determine that the “possible cause” of the failure has something to do with the Power Control Unit (PCU) located on the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit. of the telescope, according to to NASA.

The PCU supplies electricity to the payload computer. Equipped with a power controller, the PCU supplies a constant current of 5 volts to both the payload computer and the memory modules. As NASA explains:

A secondary protection circuit detects the voltage levels exiting the power controller. If the voltage goes below or above the allowable levels, this secondary circuit tells the payload computer to stop working. The team’s analysis suggests that either the regulator’s voltage level is outside acceptable levels (thus tripping the secondary protection circuit), or the secondary protection circuit has deteriorated over time and is stuck in this stall state.

Commands to reset the PCU didn’t work, so it probably failed. In response, NASA management approved a plan to switch to backup hardware. This rescue operation is scheduled to begin today, and could take a few days to complete.

Advertisement

Hubble has encountered a host of problems over the years, but NASA always seems to find a way to bring the telescope back. Hubble may be old, but is expected to remain in use until 2030. If all goes well and when Hubble is put back into service, it could serve alongside the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope, which planned to launch later this year.

The post NASA Identifies ‘Possible Cause’ of Hubble Telescope Glitch appeared first on Notesradar.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending