Hubble Revival Halted Due to Unforeseen Glitch

October 17, 2008

Efforts to restore science operations aboard the Hubble Space Telescope came to a screeching halt late yesterday, when engineers ran into an as-yet undisclosed glitch.

A team of about 50 NASA engineers and scientists have been working around the clock since Wednesday at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to remotely switch to a backup data formatter.

The primary formatter, which sends information from Hubble to Earth, failed on September 27, rendering the telescope virtually mute.

"We experienced an issue late yesterday on Hubble that we're still troubleshooting," Goddard spokesperson Ed Campion told National Geographic News Friday morning.

"We've stopped trying to activate science."

Sudden Glitch

Earlier this week, Hubble team leaders were optimistic that Hubble would be powered back up this morning following several days of "safe mode" operations.

During the temporary shutdown, engineers were to send Hubble hundreds of commands to bypass the faulty data formatter and utilize the backup, called side B.

As of Thursday, the plan was flowing smoothly.

"During the night of Oct. 15, Space Telescope Operations Control Center engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center turned on and checked out Side B of Hubble's Science Instrument Control and Data Handling (SIC&DH) system," said an update on the Hubble Web site.

Several cameras were checked to confirm they were connected to the new formatter and then sent back into safe mode.

Starting at noon on Thursday, engineers began testing Hubble's science instruments one by one and calibrating them. Sometime during that stage, the latest glitch hit.

Continued on Next Page >>


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