Feeds

Hubble transmissions cease as computer fails

Backup a bit dusty

New hybrid storage solutions

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: not turn-off-and-on-able

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Boffins: Behold the SILICON CHEAPNESS of our tiny, radio-signal-munching IoT sensor
Single ant-sized Stanford chip combines radio, 'puter, antenna
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Drones swarm over bearded Brit billionaire's island getaway
Just to take lovely pictures though, after Richard Branson invests in 3D Robotics
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
California blue whale numbers soar to historical levels, say boffins
Still far too many of them being struck by US ships, mind
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.