Hubble transmissions cease as computer fails
Backup a bit dusty
The Hubble space telescope has stopped transmitting data to Earth after a data formatting computer failed. A Shuttle service mission to the telescope has been delayed for four to six months while a replacement formatter and its installation procedures are prepared.
The Hubble space telescope in orbit.
Hubble has a Science Instrument Control and Data Handling unit which manages the various instruments, receives commands from the ground control centre and sends scientific data and images to Earth. It relies on a microprocessor-based Control Unit/Science Data Formatter (CU/SDF) to receive data from the telescope's five main instruments and format it into packets for transmission.
There are two of these formatters, and the operational Side A unit failed on Saturday 27 September. Both a restart attempt and a memory contents dump command failed.
The backup Side B unit has not been fired up since Hubble went into orbit 18 years ago and, were it to be switched on as planned, the five other instruments would need resetting to use it. In theory, this can be done remotely from ground control at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, although it has never been done before.
NASA staff suggested that the Side A unit could have failed from prolonged operation at its relatively high operating temperature and/or because of incoming radiation.
The Atlantis shuttle mission was scheduled for an October 14 lift-off, and involved seven astronauts in an 11-day mission aimed at extending Hubble's operational life for another five or so years with a comprehensive set of repairs. It would have been the first manned mission to Hubble since March 2002.
The mission objectives are being altered, with a replacement Side A unit being prepared and restart procedures being practised by ground control staff and the shuttle crew. The shuttle will now lift off in February, possibly even April, next year depending upon progress. If the remote restart and reset procedures fail Hubble will be silent, transmitting nothing until then. ®
>He is survived by four stepbrothers; "I Know My Rights", "Someone Else's Problem", "I’m A Victim" and "Work? I'm better of on the Dole" and his stepsisters, "Gymslip Mother" and "I'll have a baby and they'll give me a house".
Personally I think it's a bit remiss of you not to acknowledge his second cousin "Is it just me or is everything shit?", and his estranged twin "Ooh if you're going to the shop could you pick up a Mail for me? And a Crunchie bar. Thanks".
"What happened to sound engineering practice, tried and tested procedures, good old common sense?....."
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.
No one knows for sure how old he was, as his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn’t always fair, and maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.
Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
He declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Paracetamol, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
He began to lose the will to live as churches became businesses; creationism vied for equal footing with proper science, alternative treatments became available on the NHS (while cancer drugs were banned) and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
The poor bloke took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.
He finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realise that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Barely recovering from that he was bludgeoned to death by the news that the world's financial markets had been demonlished by irresponsible bankers who made a fortune doing so and who the governments bailed out by demanding money from those wise enough to have adopted sensible fiscal policies.
This grand old man was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion, his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.
He is survived by four stepbrothers; "I Know My Rights", "Someone Else's Problem", "I’m A Victim" and "Work? I'm better of on the Dole" and his stepsisters, "Gymslip Mother" and "I'll have a baby and they'll give me a house".
Not many attended his funeral because so few realised he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not join the majority and do nothing.
18 years up in orbit around earth in a punishing atmosphere isn't bad at all, and they are wise to delay bringing up the spares in HUBBLE until they are good and ready for take-off to send in the replacements, before a bad reboot loses them valuable data onboard. Plain common sense at work :)
Well done HUBBLE!