The Hubble Telescope has returned to operational status after nearly a mysterious month-long glitch that sent NASA scientists into a frenzy.
In a statement on Saturday, NASA said engineers had successfully switched the spacecraft to backup hardware, a process that began on July 15, after a computer anomaly occurred on June 13.
“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.
The first images from the telescope after the debacle include a pair of colliding galaxies and a galaxy with unusual outstretched arms. According to the NASA statement, while most disk galaxies have an even number of spiral arms, this one had three.
The telescope will also observe globular star clusters and auroras on the giant planet Jupiter. Images of these sightings have yet to be released by NASA.
The problem with the Hubble Telescope began on June 13, when a payload computer from the 1980s, which was supposed to control and coordinate the scientific instruments on board the spacecraft and monitor them for health and safety purposes, ceased to operate. function.
“After shutdown (…) the main computer stopped receiving a ‘keep-alive’ signal, which is a standard handshake between the payload and the spacecraft’s main computers to indicate that all is well. good, ”NASA said in a statement obtained by USA TODAY.
At first, the team thought the problem was a degrading memory module, but attempts to switch to a backup memory module failed.
The team then turned their attention to other pieces of hardware that could have caused the payload computer to shut down, but the culprit is still unclear. Jim Jeletic, deputy Hubble project manager at Goddard, told USA TODAY that they suspected the telescope’s power control unit (PCU), designed to provide constant voltage to the load’s computer hardware. useful, was involved.
“We can’t fully prove it, unless you bring the computer back to the ground and look at all the parts, but we suspect that either the voltage regulator was at fault for providing electricity a little out of range. or the circuit protector was at fault, ”Jeletic said.
The switch to backup hardware took 15 hours on July 15, according to Jeletic, and on July 16, the team began returning all instruments to operational status that were in the safe mode configuration.
“We are back to normal science operations,” Jeletic said.