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Hubble back into service after Power Unit glitch

Nzinga Tull, Hubble systems anomaly response manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, works in the control room July 15 to restore Hubble to full science operations. Credits: NASA GSFC/Rebecca Roth

Paris, 20 July 2021. – Hubble is back: the telescope went back into operations and restarted science observations last Saturday, NASA said.

Hubble’s payload computer, which controls and coordinates the observatory’s onboard science instruments, halted suddenly on 13 June.

When the main computer failed to receive a signal from the payload computer, it automatically placed Hubble’s science instruments into safe mode, NASA said. That meant the telescope would no longer be doing science while mission specialists analyzed the situation.

Working from mission control at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as well as remotely, a team of 50 engineers collaborated to figure out the cause of the problem.

To fix a telescope built in the 1980s, the team had to draw on the knowledge of staff from across its lengthy history, NASA said. Their findings pointed to the Power Control Unit as the possible cause of the issue.

On July 15, they made the planned switch to the backup side of the Science Instrument and Command & Data Handling unit, which contains the backup Power Control Unit.

“Victory came around 11:30 p.m. EDT July 15,” NASA said. “Hubble began taking scientific data once again on July 17”.

Hubble was launched in 1990 and has been observing the universe for over 31 years. The telescope orbits about 547 kilometers above the Earth.

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