NASA may finally know what caused the Hubble Space Telescope’s major computer glitch

Engineers have recognized the attainable reason for the Hubble Space Telescope’s computer problems, they usually plan to begin implementing a repair on Thursday (July 15).

Hubble has been out of motion since June 13, when it suffered a glitch with its payload computer, which controls and displays the iconic scope’s science devices. After performing a variety of analyses and assessments over the previous month, the Hubble workforce now thinks it may have discovered the trigger — a problem with the Power Control Unit (PCU).

Like the payload computer, the PCU resides in Hubble’s Science Instrument Command and Data Handling (SI C&DH) unit. The PCU makes certain that the payload computer and its related {hardware} have a gradual stream of electrical energy flowing in. It does this utilizing an influence regulator and a “secondary protection circuit,” which tells the payload computer to close down if the voltage strays above or beneath acceptable ranges, NASA officers defined in an replace right now (July 14). 

Related: The Hubble Space Telescope and 30 years that transformed our view of the universe

“The team’s analysis suggests that either the voltage level from the regulator is outside of acceptable levels (thereby tripping the secondary protection circuit), or the secondary protection circuit has degraded over time and is stuck in this inhibit state,” NASA officers wrote.

The workforce has already tried, unsuccessfully, to reset the PCU. So the subsequent transfer is to change to the backup aspect of the SI C&DH unit, which has a backup PCU. All of the testing and critiques have been carried out forward of this envisioned repair, which can begin on Thursday.

If the swap works, Hubble will possible be capable to return to regular science operations a number of days later, NASA officers mentioned.

This kind of repair shouldn’t be unprecedented. In 2008, the workforce switched out a distinct a part of the SI C&DH, the Command Unit/Science Data Formatter, after the module failed. Spacewalking astronauts changed that whole SI C&DH unit in 2009 with the one which Hubble is utilizing now.

Hubble launched to Earth orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery in April 1990. Astronauts famously fastened its flawed major mirror throughout a servicing mission in 1993, and the telescope has been offering jaw-dropping views of the cosmos, and amazing scientific discoveries, ever since. 

Mike Wall is the creator of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a e-book about the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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