Two weeks after the Hubble space telescope ceased its scientific work, the responsible team on Earth is still trying to resolve possible problems. As NASA has now announced, this also includes changes to the software that controls the synchronization messages that are responsible for the latest problems. Because certain data had been lost, the telescope had partially switched itself off. First, a scientific instrument that has been inactive for years has now been reactivated to collect information about the loss of data. Another is to be launched soon for additional analyzes. Apart from the specific error, the instrument works without any problems.
Carefully look for the cause of the problem
NASA made public on October 25th that Hubble had stopped observing, but no more information had been given. As the US Space Agency has since announced, the space telescope first noticed the loss of these synchronization messages on October 23. The scientific instruments were then reset and Hubble resumed work the following day. A day later, several of these messages were lost, whereupon Hubble put itself into safe mode. The synchronization messages provide the instruments with important information about the time so that they can respond correctly to commands and data requests.
NASA is now continuing to search for the cause, concentrating on the circuitry of the control unit that generates the synchronization messages. In an attempt to isolate and fix the error, the Near Infrared Camera and Multi Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), which has not been used since 2010, was first started up, writes NASA. The aim was to collect information on the loss of data without endangering the active instruments. Because there has been no data loss since November 1st, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) will now be reactivated. That is least endangered by the losses. At the same time, they are working on changes to the software so that lost synchronization messages would not lead to a shutdown immediately.
The analysis of the problem will therefore take place at least this week, and possible measures for troubleshooting will not be discussed until afterwards at the earliest. Hubble’s new break will therefore take even longer.
The space telescope, operated jointly by NASA and the European ESA, was launched into space in 1990. After initial difficulties, it has since fundamentally changed and shaped the general image of the universe with countless images of stars, galaxies and much more. Recently, however, his old age has been shown again and again. Hubble can no longer be visited and serviced by humans since the end of the space shuttle. Most recently, the space telescope was not in operation for weeks until the summer. In a few weeks, its successor, the James Webb space telescope, is to be brought into space.
(Image: ESA / Hubble)
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