NASA is having trouble trying to fix the Hubble Space Telescope

NASA announced that they are still trying to restore the payload computer of the Hubble Space Telescope since it broke down on 13 June 2021. After a week, their operations team has had no success in fixing the problem and the telescope is currently in a safe mode state.

After the Hubble’s computer halted, the telescope’s operations team tried to attempt a restart on the computer on 14 June, but failed. They initially indicated that it was because of the telescope’s degrading computer memory module and tried to switch to a back-up memory module. However, the command to initiate the back-up module failed to complete as well.

The team also failed to obtain more diagnostic information on both modules. But as the Hubble and its scientific instruments are still in “good health” according to the agency, its instruments are currently being put in a safe mode as a precaution.

The Hubble was launched from the Discovery Shuttle on 25 April 1990, and up to this point it was still being used for modern space science. With the telescope, we’ve learnt about the rate of the expansion of the universe—as well as so many other discoveries.

But as it does look like it’s catching up to its own age, it wouldn’t surprise a lot of people that this isn’t the Hubble’s first such glitch this year. NASA managed to restore the telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 in March—but its voltage levels had still slowly decreased over time.

We don’t know yet if the Hubble Space Telescope’s payload computer is salvageable, but at least NASA is working on sending a successor into space soon—the James Webb Space Telescope. The agency planned a 31 October launch date for the new telescope, but it has been rescheduled to a later unconfirmed date.

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Dzamira Dzafri