NASA computer scientists attempt to repair the Hubble Space Telescope’s payload computer after the hardware freezes due to a suspected degraded memory module.
“The payload computer has a total of four memory modules and only needs one,” said a NASA spokesman El Reg.
“You can think of it as a circuit board with memory chips on a laptop that can be replaced in the event of a problem. The team is currently working on replacing the memory module that appears to have a problem. This was done numerous times during pre-launch hardware testing and the operating procedures for it are in place. The rest of Hubble is currently working normally. “
The robust telescope has temporarily suspended all scientific operations and has been in safe mode since June 13, the space agency said on Wednesday.
Ground control said Hubble’s main computer was not receiving a keep-alive handshake signal from the payload computer that controls the on-board instruments. Without this signal, the spacecraft’s main computer will automatically put all instruments on the payload computer into safe mode as a precaution. The NASA team tried to revive the payload system on Monday, even though the main computer switched off the instruments again. After studying the diagnostic data, they assume that the problem lies in a defective memory module that is exposed to increased radiation, causing the payload computer to halt and terminate communication with the main computer.
The plan is to get the telescope working again by switching to a backup storage module in the payload computer and leaving that system on for a day. When the payload and the main computer can communicate as expected again, the instruments are switched on again, they should remain switched on and so he can continue his mission. Degraded memory modules can easily be bypassed thanks to the replacement components that NASA installed in the telescope before the start.
Eye in the sky
Hubble has been operating for more than three decades, discovering the cosmic wonders in the distant universe. Its payload computer is part of a system called NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer-1 (NSSC-1) that was built in the 1980s.
The machine was replaced in 2009 during a maintenance mission during which four astronauts also deployed new batteries, gyroscopes, and sensors to keep Hubble running. In March of this year, an unexpected bug also put the telescope into safe mode. NASA doesn’t expect to be repairing Hubble anytime soon.
The space agency is slated to launch its heavily delayed James Webb space telescope later this year. The infrared JWST views compared to Hubble’s optical and ultraviolet recordings and the two together could be a powerful tool, we are told.
“The Webb space telescope will exceed its capabilities in the infrared when it is launched later this year,” said a NASA spokesman.
“However, no other current or planned NASA general observation mission covers the ultraviolet wavelengths. Hence, the astronomers hope that Hubble will work with the Webb Space Telescope so that the full spectrum of data on astronomical objects and phenomena can be collected, scientific understanding. “®