NASA switches Hubble to backup hardware in last-ditch effort to get it back online

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,158   +872
Staff member
In brief: On Friday, NASA announced that it has finally restored the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to semi-operational status. The news comes after the craft spent over a month in safe mode. The telescope is running on its backup payload computer and will resume normal operations once NASA has the rest of its systems back online.

Last month, on June 13, the HST's main payload computer went down, and NASA engineers could not get it to reboot past safe mode. Technicians thought the problem might have something to do with the 31-year-old orbiting telescope's memory module. However, it turned out to be the power control unit (PCU).

The HST's PSU supplies five volts of electricity to the system. If the power fluctuates or fails, the telescope pauses operations until consistent power is restored. NASA made several attempts to reboot the PSU without success. So the team switched to the backup payload computer as a last resort, since it is a very "complex and risky" process.

The initialization of the backup was a success, and NASA engineers will spend the rest of the day rebooting the HST's other equipment. Once everything is running in a stable state, the telescope will resume normal scientific operations. Running on backup hardware should not pose a significant problem as the observatory is nearing the end of its life anyway.

Its duties will soon be mostly taken over by the much more powerful, albeit delay-plagued James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), scheduled to launch on October 31 this year, barring any other setbacks. The two will operate in tandem for a while until the HST fails or NASA decides to retire it.

Permalink to story.

 

terzaerian

Posts: 987   +1,430
Call me conspiratorial but it seems a bit spooky to me that Arecibo failed in December of last year and now less than a year later Hubble gets knocked out
 

VitalyT

Posts: 5,937   +6,192
Call me conspiratorial but it seems a bit spooky to me that Arecibo failed in December of last year and now less than a year later Hubble gets knocked out
That's what happens when everyone starts working from home because of the Covid. You cannot say for sure that half the team wasn't drunk half the time.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,946   +2,250
TechSpot Elite
Call me conspiratorial but it seems a bit spooky to me that Arecibo failed in December of last year and now less than a year later Hubble gets knocked out

Everything needs to be serviced from time to time and neither of those had been for a long time, especially Arecibo which had been heavily damaged by a hurricane. Precision instruments don't stay precision without at least a little TLC.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 17,378   +6,129
Call me conspiratorial but it seems a bit spooky to me that Arecibo failed in December of last year and now less than a year later Hubble gets knocked out
Well sh!t yeah. It's those nasty little flying things flitting around that the government can't explain, that are here to break things pertaining to space exploration.

The chances are they already know what humanity is about, and want no parts of it, or us knowing they're out there.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,519   +4,906
Call me conspiratorial but it seems a bit spooky to me that Arecibo failed in December of last year and now less than a year later Hubble gets knocked out
No conspiracy needed to explain either of these events. NASA knew that Hubble would have a limited life after the last Hubble service mission in 2009, and that the clock started ticking on that life after that. NASA lost the capability to service Hubble when the Shuttle was canned in favor of other means of transportation to space - which is mostly in the hands of the private sector such as companies like SpaceX ATM.

Given JWST is getting closer to launch, JWST will be Hubble's replacement - although JWST is designed to operate in the infrared region of the EM spectrum unlike Hubble which primarily focuses on the Visible portion of the EM spectrum. Therefore, JWST and Hubble do not cover the same portions of the EM spectrum. JWST will, however, be able to see more in some respects.

There is probably no NASA budget room to service Hubble, though one might argue that the cost, to someone like Musky, would be pocket change. I would be surprised if he were willing to pay for such a mission, and you can bet that there would be all kinds of complaints if NASA decided to service it at this point given what has been spent on JWST.

Arecibo also requires maintenance as @Lew Zealand said, and it, too, has lately received no TLC.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,519   +4,906
Hubble to my mind is a legendary piece of machinery. 31 years operating in space and 12 years since its last service is no mean feat for such a precision instrument.
OK, reality check. The Hubble telescope was projected, (and expected), to endure for fifteen years. It's approaching thirty. I guess you could say it's well out of warranty. Nonetheless, it's been a superlative case of, "the gift that keeps on giving".
Absolutely. Just like the Mars rover Curiosity, about which there is an interesting story here - https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/tech...y-have-been-erased/ar-AAMgwKG?ocid=uxbndlbing
 

captaincranky

Posts: 17,378   +6,129
There is probably no NASA budget room to service Hubble, though one might argue that the cost, to someone like Musky, would be pocket change
Maybe Ms. Hubble is just in need of some companionship. Jeff Bezos is filthy rich and now single.

Maybe his rocket could woo the old gal back to life

58bef7718618b2c8008b4597