Universe, we have a problem: NASA investigates Hubble Space Telescope failure
The payload computer onboard the Hubble Space Telescope that has shaped our understanding of the cosmos for more than 30 years has stopped working. (NASA)
ATLANTA (CNN) – Universe, we have a problem: The payload computer aboard the Hubble Space Telescope that has shaped our understanding of the cosmos for more than 30 years has stopped working.
After the June 13 malfunction, the Hubble payload computer stopped receiving the “keep-alive” signal which is a “standard handshake between the payload and the spacecraft’s main computers to indicate that everything is fine “, according to one NASA press release.
After all science instruments on the main computer automatically went into safe mode, staff at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland restarted the payload computer, but it was quickly stopped again on June 14. good health, NASA reported.
The payload computer – a standard NASA Spacecraft Computer-1 system, or NSSC-1, built in the 1980s – is part of the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit, a module on the Hubble Space Telescope, which communicates commands to Hubble’s scientific instruments and formats the data for transmission to the ground. The current unit is a replacement that was installed by astronauts during the STS-125 shuttle mission in May 2009 after the original unit failed in 2008, delaying the final maintenance mission at Hubble while NASA built the replacement.
The purpose of the payload computer is to control and coordinate the telescope’s scientific instruments and monitor their health and safety, according to NASA. Computer programs also analyze and manipulate the data it collects. The computer is essential, but there is a second computer that the operations team can switch to if something goes wrong.
Based on the initial data, the Hubble operations team initially believed that a degrading memory module had shut down the computer. After restarting and attempting to fail over to a backup memory module failed, the team attempted to get more information while again trying to bring the memory modules online, which also fell. flat.
After several tests of the computer’s memory modules, investigators discovered that another piece of computer hardware could be causing the memory errors: the operations team began to determine if the problem lies with the standard interface, or STINT hardware, which facilitates messaging between the computer’s central processing module and other parties – or the CPM itself.
Members of the operations team are also designing tests that they will run soon to identify potential issues and a possible solution – which, for future reference, would be instrumental in determining what hardware is still functioning properly when something else doesn’t. does not work.
If the issue is not resolved, Hubble’s operations team will be ready to move to STINT and CPM hardware in the backup payload computer, NASA reported.
If the operations team members are using Plan B, then it will take them several days to see how the backup computer is performing and to resume normal operations for which the primary payload computer is typically responsible. The backup has not been used since its installation in 2009, NASA reported, but it has been “thoroughly tested on the ground before being installed on the spacecraft.”
Launched aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, the The Hubble Space Telescope shared his observations of stars, galaxies and other astronomical objects “which have captured the imagination of the whole world and deepened our knowledge of the cosmos,” NASA reported.
This includes its role in reducing the age of the universe from 10 to 20 billion years once estimated at around 13.8 billion years, a number now used to understand the chronological development of stars, galaxies and Moreover.
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