NASA, the US aerospace agency, seems to have been able to find the source of the problem, which on January 8 led to the breakdown of the Hubble Space Telescope. The agency hopes that the telescope will be able to resume full scientific activities by the end of this week. Recall that in early January, Hubble broke one of its most important scientific tools – Wide Field Camera 3. The agency reports that its engineers were able to solve the problem.
Like many other spacecraft, the Hubble telescope is equipped with a special system that puts the space observatory in “safe mode” if the automation detects any mechanical problem. In this case, the entire activity of the apparatus is reduced to a minimum. After that, the ground crew looks for the source of the problem and tries to find a way to solve it.
In the latter case of the Hubble breakdown, which occurred on January 8 (not at the most appropriate time), the software of the Wide-angle Camera-3 revealed more energy consumption by a scientific instrument than usual. To prevent any possible damage, the automation turned off the camera.
In a detailed analysis of the problem, NASA engineers found that, in fact, the levels of energy distribution at the time of the breakdown were optimal. It seems that the source of the problem was the system of telemetry apparatus, which collects and sends the data values to the main computer. In this data, the engineers found errors. NASA employees rebooted all systems, after which all power indicators returned to normal.
Despite the fact that all the systems of the device are now working normally, NASA engineers are currently in the process of calibrating and testing the performance of all the tools. If everything goes according to plan, then the “Wide-angle camera-3” of the telescope will be able to resume observation of the stars by the end of this week, according to the official website of the mission.
Such damage is not surprising, given the age of the telescope itself. Hubble was launched into space in 1990. Initially it was assumed that the device will be able to work in orbit for 15 years, but in the end it has been engaged in science for almost 30 years. In 2009, NASA carried out repairs and upgrades to Hubble, installing a new wide-angle camera on it.
The agency expects that Hubble will be able to continue its research activities until at least 2021. The Hubble should be replaced by the new generation of “James Webb” telescope, but the latter will not be completed.