The Hubble Space Telescope has finally returned to full operations after more than a month of communications issues caused by an outage.
NASA announced that the telescope’s ageing system is operating now with the four instruments currently collecting scientific data, for the first time since October.
The space agency finally switched on Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) on December 6, after successfully recovering another three instruments over the course of the last six weeks.
Hubble (a NASA joint project, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canada Space Agency) has been observing the universe over the past three decades.
More than 1.5 Million observations have been made of the universe since its April 1990 launch. Additionally, over 18,000 scientific papers were published using its data.
It orbits Earth at a speed approximately 17,000mph (27.300kph) while in low Earth orbit. At 340m in height, it is slightly lower than the International Space Station.
Hubble will be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope. It is scheduled to launch in space this month, after having spent a quarter century developing it.
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NASA photos from July 2021 show the Hubble Space Telescope circling Earth over May 19, 2009, NASA images
NASA denied that the Hubble space telescope was ‘out of repair’ and insisted there were multiple solutions to its problems weeks later after it shut down due to a computer error. F. Story Musgrave (right), and Jeffrey Hoffman were inside the payload bay of the space shuttle during Hubble’s 1993 first servicing mission.
Hubble encountered a problem at the beginning of October, causing some of its functions not to work.
Its instruments went into ‘safe mode’ after it experienced ‘synchronization issues with internal spacecraft communications’, NASA announced on October 25.
The Hubble Space Telescope team from NASA has recovered the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph [STIS]NASA has updated their website with an update on Tuesday, stating that all four of its active instruments were operational Monday, Dec. 6.
The science of breaking down light to its components is what spectrographs do. It’s similar to the way a prism divides light into rainbows. STIS gives Hubble scientists detailed spectral information for many celestial objects.
On October 23, the first error codes for the Hubble’s scientific instruments showed that there had been a loss of synchronization messages. A continuous data stream that links two systems.
Hubble Engineers reset instruments. Science operations resumed the next morning.
But a second set of error codes were issued on October 25, again indicating the loss of a specific synchronisation message. The instruments then went into safe mode.
The Hubble can be in “safe mode” but does not collect any data or observe celestial objects. However, the Hubble is always powered up.
NASA began to switch on components of the Near Infrared Camera, Multi Object Spectrometer and NICMOS instruments to see if there are any ‘potential workarounds to why Hubble discovered a loss in specific data synchronization message. NICMOS was first installed in 1997. It has not been active since 2010.
NASA’s Tuesday update states that the team “has not yet detected any additional synchronization messages issues since monitoring started November 1”.
NASA announced that Hubble’s team will keep working on improvements to their instrument software, which would enable them to continue science operations even when they receive lost synchronisation messages.
In mid-December, the first of these updates is to go on the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. Other instruments will follow suit in the months ahead.
Unfortunately for NASA, this isn’t the first time Hubble has suffered issues in 2021 – in June it stopped working after it ran into problems with a 1980s-era computer that controls its science instruments.
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (Maryland) tried to start the computer again on June 14 after it had stopped functioning since June 13.
The Hubble’s science operations resumed July 17th, only one month after they were stopped by the malfunction.
Hubble was launched in April 1990 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Despite a number of updates and repairs by astronauts who were spacewalking during NASA’s shuttle era, Hubble shows more signs of ageing.
This telescope was named for Edwin Hubble (1889-1990), an American astronomer. Hubble discovered that the universe expands at a faster rate than expected and was born in Missouri.
Recently, the Hubble celebrated its 31st year in space. This was done with an image showing a huge star that’s ‘on top of destruction’.
Hubble images show a huge star named AG Carinae engaging in a tug of war between radiation and gravity to prevent its own destruction
Hubble (pictured) orbits Earth at a speed of about 17,000mph (27,300kph) in low Earth orbit at about 340 miles in altitude, slightly higher than the International Space Station (ISS)
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, valued at $10 billion by NASA, is a major upgrade of the Hubble telescope. It is also 100 times stronger.
NASA prefers to see James Webb more as an extension of Hubble than as a replacement. They know that they will be working together for some time.
NASA claims that both observatories are expected to work in tandem well into the next decade with the launch of Webb Telescope, which is scheduled for late this month.
After months of delays the James Webb Telescope will be launched into space aboard the ESA Ariane-5 rocket on December 22nd, 2021.
Earlier this month, the telescope was successfully unpacked in French Guiana, where it will head into space, following a 5,800 mile-long journey. It was ready for liftoff at the end November.
The James Webb Space Telescope (pictured) is planned to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship astrophysics mission
James Webb had been originally scheduled for launch December 18. However, a’recent incident’ in launch preparations has pushed it back four days. The telescope has been plagued by numerous delays throughout its construction and testing.
NASA announced that James Webb will begin the’most complex series of deployments’ ever performed in space, approximately 28 minutes following blastoff on December 22.
It is so large it will fold, origami-style, to fit in the rocket, according to NASA, and unfurl ‘like a Transformer’ in space.
It will travel to an orbit about one million miles away from Earth and undergo six months of commissioning in space – including unfolding its mirrors and sunshield, cooling down, aligning and calibrating.
NASA claims that this will allow scientists to observe the Universe from around the globe.