It’s official, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is back after a computer anomaly suddenly shut down the 32-year-old system for a month. And to celebrate his return, Hubble released two spectacular new images on Monday showing the depths of the universe.
Over the weekend, the telescope captured both a pair of “rarely seen” colliding galaxies and an “unusual” large spiral galaxy, NASA said. The captured spiral galaxy has three arms, while most such galaxies have an even number.
The images were captured as part of a program at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“I am delighted to see that Hubble’s eyes are once again on the universe, once again capturing the kind of images that have intrigued and inspired us for decades,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, in a statement. “This is a time to celebrate the success of a truly mission-driven team. Through their efforts, Hubble will continue its 32nd year of discovery and we will continue to learn from the observatory’s transformational vision.”
The telescope has been on hiatus since June 13, when its payload computer suddenly stopped working. The signal failure automatically put the telescope’s instruments into safe mode, NASA said, as it continued to orbit about 340 miles above Earth.
Repairing the telescope was a situation for everyone on deck, as NASA had to bring in retired staff members to contribute their knowledge of the device. Some of those who helped build the telescope in the 1980s stepped in to help fix the computer glitch, while many others have delved into 40-year-old documents that may provide insight into the malfunction.
According to NASA, the problem was with the telescope’s power control unit, which helps provide “constant voltage power” to computer hardware.
It took the efforts of more than 50 people over the course of just over four weeks, but on July 15 at 11:30 p.m. ET, NASA managed to get Hubble back up and running, switching operations to its backup hardware. . He started collecting data two days later.
Jim Jeletic, deputy Hubble project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement that the complex transition to backup equipment required “15 hours of commanding spacecraft from the ground.”
“The main computer had to be turned off, and a backup safe-mode computer temporarily took control of the spacecraft. Several enclosures also had to be turned on that had never been turned on before in space, and other hardware needed their switched interfaces, ”Jeletic said. “There was no reason to believe that all of this wouldn’t work, but it’s the team’s job to be nervous and think about anything that could go wrong and how we might make up for it. team meticulously planned and tested every little step on the floor to make sure they got it right.
The last time Hubble had to rely on backup hardware was in 2008. Its computing unit was replaced the following year, and since then it has made more than 600,000 observations, according to NASA. Since its launch into space in 1990, the telescope has captured more than 1.5 million images.