NASA’s Hubble telescope may be in trouble

NASA Hubble Space Telescope It has orbited the Earth for more than 30 years, and it is showing its age. This weekend, he ran into an obstacle that he has yet to get out of.

On Sunday, NASA’s Hubble Twitter account published news the ship had entered safe mode around 4 am ET. Here on Earth, mission scientists were quick to get our eye on the sky back online.

When asked for a comment, a NASA spokesperson said Reverse:

“The Hubble Space Telescope is in good condition, but remains in safe mode as a precaution as the team works to fully understand the bug found Sunday and the associated safe mode response. The team is working to get Hubble back to science operations as soon as possible. “

A screenshot of the NASA tweet.Twitter

No details are currently available on when the mission could be fully operational again, but NASA’s comment is encouraging to fans of telescope stargazing.

What is safe mode for the Hubble telescope?

Safe mode on the Hubble is pretty much the same as what happens to your home computer when it unexpectedly goes to sleep – a software glitch causes the machine to only have basic default operations. This means that although Hubble is still in contact with NASA, it cannot function normally. Fortunately for NASA ground crews, it appears that there are no hardware issues at the moment.

That’s good news: Hubble is about 330 miles above Earth, so maintenance operations aren’t exactly simple, easy fixes, but it’s been done before.

The Hubble Space Telescope has been observing the skies for nearly 31 years, but recent software glitches have left it unable to look at the sky. POT

Hubble was launched in 1990 aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The telescope orbits at a distance of 333-336 miles above Earth, depending on its point in its orbit.

This orbit was specifically selected so that the telescope could Being cared for by astronauts. And it has been: Since its launch, it has received a number of updates: first, in 1993, to fix a faulty mirror that hindered its ability to see correctly, and then four more times to perform other essential hardware updates.

Can the Hubble Telescope be repaired?

The shuttle’s last mission was in 2011. Since then, NASA has not established another way to send astronauts to physically repair the aging telescope. This means that any problem now could be the death of the iconic instrument – soon, the telescope could reach a point in its life where it is no longer operational.

It has a successor: The James Webb Space Telescope has been a long-awaited follow-up mission for years. This new observatory has faced a number of delays and, for now, remains on the ground. It is currently scheduled for release in October 2021.

The giant parasol for the James Webb Space Telescope. Haunted by delays, the telescope is supposed to replace the Hubble.NASA / Chris Gunn

Unlike Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope will not be able to be repaired by astronauts, as it will be placed in an orbit beyond the reach of any current NASA human flight vehicle.

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