The Hubble Space Telescope is back, and NASA has the photos to prove it.
The Earth-orbiting observatory shut down on June 13 and stayed that way for over a month as engineers struggled to locate a mysterious problem. NASA has not yet announced the exact cause of the problem, but the agency’s engineers managed to bring Hubble back to the Internet by activating some of its backup devices on Thursday.
Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA, said: Friday video interview With Nzinga Tull, who led the Hubble team during troubleshooting. “We all knew it was more dangerous than usual.”
Hubble slowly turned their science instruments back on over the weekend and performed system checks to make sure everything was still working. Then she took her first photos since the whole disaster began.
The telescope focused its target on an unusual cluster of galaxies on Saturday. One of his new images shows a pair of slowly colliding galaxies. The other image shows a spiral galaxy with long outstretched arms. Most spiral galaxies have an even number of arms, but these galaxies only have three.
Hubble also observes Jupiter’s northern and northern lights, as well as narrow star clusters. NASA has yet to share images of these sightings.
“I am delighted to see that Hubble has reconsidered the universe, once again capturing the kind of images that have intrigued and inspired us for decades,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. Press release. “This is a time to celebrate the success of a team that is truly dedicated to the mission. Through their efforts, Hubble will continue its 32nd year of discovery, and we will continue to learn from the observatory’s transformative vision. ”
A mysterious bug that took a month to fix
Hubble, the world’s most powerful space telescope, was launched into orbit in 1990. It was launched photographed The Birth and Death of Stars, spotted new moons orbiting Pluto, and tracked two interstellar objects passing through our solar system. His observations allowed astronomers to calculate the age and expansion of the universe and to observe the galaxies that formed shortly after the Big Bang.
But the computer carrying the telescope’s payload suddenly stopped working on June 13. This computer, built in the 1980s, is similar to Hubble’s brain: it controls and monitors all of the spacecraft’s scientific instruments. Engineers have tried and failed to bring it back online several times. Eventually, after performing more diagnostic tests, they realized that the computer wasn’t the problem at all – other hardware on the spacecraft was causing the shutdown.
It’s still not entirely clear which piece of hardware was the culprit. Engineers suspect that a safety fault in the telescope’s power control unit (PCU) has ordered the payload computer to shut down. Maybe the PCU is sending the wrong voltage to the computer, or the failure security itself is faulty.
NASA was prepared for such problems. Each Hubble instrument has a twin pre-installed on the telescope in case of failure. The engineers therefore replaced all defective parts with these spare parts. Now the telescope is back in full observation mode.
“I feel very excited and relieved,” Toll said after the material exchange. “I am happy to share the good news.”
Although this flaw has been fixed by NASA, it is a sign that the age of Hubble could start to interfere with its science. The telescope has not been improved since 2009, and some of its instruments are over 30 years old.
“It’s an old machine, and that’s kind of telling us: listen, you’re getting a little bit old here, aren’t you? It speaks to us, ”Zurbuchen said on Friday. “However, there is still more science to come, and we are excited about it.”