Listed below are the primary new photos of the absolutely purposeful Hubble
The astronomy community breathed a sigh of relief earlier this week when the Space Telescope Science Institute announced that the Hubble Space Telescope’s major computing problems had been resolved after a busy month of restoration work. They had to bring every possible expert – even retired engineers and scientists – to make this possible, and their success pays homage to the innovative and creative engineers NASA is famous for over the years. But now the telescope is doing what it was built for again: It takes incredible pictures of the cosmos and sends them to earth.
Here are the first pictures since the remote repair, two pictures of galaxies. One shows a galaxy with unusually extended spiral arms and the other is the first high-resolution view of a fascinating pair of colliding galaxies.
NASA says other initial targets for Hubble include globular clusters and auroras on the giant planet Jupiter.
All of Hubble’s scientific instruments are now fully functional again after performing remote recovery work to repair a persistent and tricky computer anomaly that basically shut down the venerable 31-year-old telescope. The work was being done from the Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland – with some experts still working from home with COVID-19 restrictions – when Hubble orbited 340 miles (547 km) above the earth.
The problem arose from a bug with Hubble’s payload computer, which controls and coordinates the observatory’s scientific instruments on board. The computer problem automatically put Hubble’s scientific instruments into safe mode, and initial workarounds did not result in a permanent solution.
At this point in time, Hubble alumni were called upon to contribute their decades of know-how to Hubble. NASA said retired workers who helped build the telescope provided vital expertise to help determine what needed to be done to regain access to the computer. Other former team members searched Hubble’s original papers and found documents 30 to 40 years old that helped the team find a way forward.
“That’s one of the great things about having a program that has been running for over 30 years: the incredible amount of experience and expertise,” said Nzinga Tull, Hubble Systems Anomaly Response Manager at Goddard, in a statement. “It was humbling and inspiring to get in touch with both the current team and those who moved on to other projects. There is so much dedication to their Hubble colleagues, the observatory, and the science that Hubble is famous for. “
Together, the old and new team members worked their way through various potential problems and finally methodically identified the cause, a problem with the Science Instrument and Command & Data Handling unit that houses the payload computer. It was decided to switch to the backup side of the Science Instrument and Command & Data Handling unit, and then a plan was developed. Over 50 experts reviewed the process before the engineers commanded 15 hours in a row from the ground, including safely turning off the main computer and using a backup computer on the telescope.
Nzinga Tull, Hubble Systems Anomaly Response Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is working in the control room on July 15 to get Hubble back into full scientific operation.
Credits: NASA GSFC / Rebecca Roth
“Several boxes also had to be turned on that had never been turned on before in space, and the interfaces of other hardware had to be switched,” said Jim Jeletic, Hubble’s deputy project manager at Goddard. “There was no reason to believe that none of this would work, but it’s the team’s job to be nervous and think about what could go wrong and how we can compensate for it. The team meticulously planned and tested every small step on site to make sure it went right. ”On July 15, the team found that the move was successful. The scientific instruments were then successfully turned back on, with Hubble again collecting scientific data on July 17th.
NASA said most of the observations missed while scientific operations were suspended will be postponed. So look for more data and images taken from the most famous space telescope.
Sources: NASA, STScI