On June 13, the Hubble Area Telescope took itself offline owing to a fault in its payload pc, which manages the telescope’s scientific devices. Since then, NASA has been executing the type of troubleshooting that is familiar to numerous of us—with the extra tension of the components getting irreplaceable, in area, and about the similar classic as a Commodore 64.
So considerably, controllers have managed to figure out several points that are not at fault, centered on tried fixes that haven’t worked. The workers have narrowed the difficulty down, but they haven’t pinpointed it. And at this point, the following measures will depend on the precise mother nature of the issue, so having a diagnosis is the top rated priority.
If at first you really don’t thrive…
The hardware at challenge is aspect of the payload laptop process, which is made up of a handle processor, a communications bus, a memory module, and a processor that formats info and instructions so that the controller can “speak” to all the specific science instruments (the system also converts the knowledge that the instruments deliver into a common format for transmission to Earth). There is certainly also a power supply that is intended to continue to keep every little thing operating at the correct voltage.
Currently being cautious kinds, the people who developed Hubble furnished a backup controller and three backup memory modules.
Preliminary indications showed a prospective issue with the memory module, so the initially attempt to restore the Hubble included seeking to switch to one of the backups. That deal with unsuccessful, suggesting that the odd memory conduct was just a symptom of troubles elsewhere. Switching to the backup controller also unsuccessful to resolve the dilemma no issue which combination of controller and memory module was utilised, Hubble could not study or write to the memory.
Given that details, the controllers have turned their awareness somewhere else. Prime candidates are now the electric power offer, the information bus, and the details formatting processor. It really is continue to probable to switch to the backup controller and memory, but the sequence of the technique will differ based mostly on particularly what is at fault. In a press release, NASA referred to this system as “much more complicated and riskier.”
But we also have explanation for optimism: a information formatter failed in 2008, and NASA effectively switched to backups, which operated until eventually a servicing mission changed the unsuccessful hardware.
Offered that NASA no for a longer period has obtain to a auto intended for these kinds of servicing missions, having a practical backup in area will be vital if we want to squeeze much more years out of this a person-of-a-sort observatory.