The Hubble Space Telescope

Hubble Feeling Better, But Repair Mission Delayed

October 31, 2008 09:23 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
NASA has announced that the Hubble telescope is once again producing its stunning images, but an overdue repair is delayed until May.

Hubble Back to Old Self

The Hubble Space telescope is up and running, and "taking stunning cosmic photos after a breakdown a month ago," according to the Associated Press.

"It's back to where it was before that box failed," space telescope institute spokesman Ray Villard said yesterday. "Everything's fine."

To substantiate its claims, NASA revealed a photo taken by the telescope of a "weird interaction" caused by two galaxies 5.8 trillion miles away that collided, the AP reports.

The galaxy collision seemed to create the spectacular image of a number 10, leading NASA officials to say the telescope had scored a "perfect 10" on its first day back on the job, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times provides the new picture on its site.

NASA is still experiencing problems with one of Hubble's cameras, but it should be fixed by next month.

But the news wasn't all good, as the agency announced that it won't be able to send a team to repair the aging telescope before May.

A unit that was supposed to be used in the telescope's repair "didn't handle the commands properly," Hubble manager Preston Burch said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Background: Hubble Shut Down

The Hubble Space Telescope went out of commission just a few weeks before a final service mission was supposed to visit the instrument on Oct. 14.

A “significant malfunction” interrupted the storage and transmission of scientific data from the telescope to the Earth, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

NASA conducted an investigation into the impact of the the malfunction, which involved a part called Control Unit/Science Data Formatter—Side A.

While the breakdown was unfortunate, the telescope's operators said it was a relief that the breakdown occured when it did, instead of after the scheduled service mission had taken place.

“Think if it had happened two weeks after the service mission ... We could have lost the mission in six, twelve, eighteen months,” said Ed Weiler, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, to reporters Monday. “If this had to happen, it couldn't have happened at a better time. We're very lucky.”
The space shuttle Endeavor was moved earlier this month to a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, where it sat next to the shuttle Atlantis. It was the first time in seven years that two space shuttles were at their launch pads simultaneously, according to magazine Discover.

Atlantis was scheduled to liftoff in October, when seven astronauts were supposed to begin a mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Although the mission has now been delayed, the 18-year-old telescope is still in need of its final upgrade: new batteries, gyroscopes and repair kits, according to Reuters.

Endeavor will be on stand-by in the event that something goes wrong in the Atlantis’ precarious mission. During the Atlantis mission, the astronauts will be close enough to the International Space Station to seek safety if anything goes wrong with the ship, according to the Associated Press. In such a case, four astronauts on Endeavor could come to the rescue.

Reference: Astronomy


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