Feeds

Hubble back in full snapping mode

Returns fetching first image from main camera

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The Hubble space telescope yesterday resumed "regular science operations" following the failure of the 'scope's operational Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit (SIC&DH) back in September and susbsequent coaxing into life of the back-up unit (more details here).

Hubble image of Arp 147. Pic: NASANASA yesterday released the first snap from the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, which on 27-28 October captured this fetching portrait of "a pair of gravitationally interacting galaxies" dubbed Arp 147.

The agency explains: "The blue ring was most probably formed after the galaxy on the left passed through the galaxy on the right. Just as a pebble thrown into a pond creates an outwardly moving circular wave, a propagating ring of higher density was generated at the point of impact. As this excess density collided with outer material that was moving inward due to the gravitational pull of the two galaxies, shocks and dense gas were produced, stimulating star formation."

While everything appears to be back to normal up on Hubble, the knock-on effect of the SIC&DH failure is that NASA has once again been obliged to postpone the launch date of space shuttle Atlantis STS-125 mission - the final servicing gig to the venerable eye in the sky

Atlantis was due to blast off back in October, but the SIC&DH saga prompted NASA to delay the mission while it booted up the back-up system.

Now, NASA reports it won't be able to meet the revised February 2009 launch date, since it need more time to prepare a new second data handling unit to replace the failed kit. NASA's Astrophysics Division Director, Jon Morse, explained: "We now have done enough analysis of all the things that need to happen with the flight spare unit to know that we cannot be ready for a February launch.

"The February date was an initial estimate, assuming minimal hardware preparations and test durations that are no longer viewed as realistic. We've communicated our assessment to the Space Shuttle Program so it can adjust near-term plans. We will work closely with the Shuttle Program to develop details for a new launch opportunity."

Fans of vintage computer kit will be pleased to learn that the replacement SIC&DH is the same as those currently aboard Hubble. NASA explains: "The Hubble flight spare...has been at Goddard since it was originally delivered as a back-up system in 1991. The unit currently is undergoing testing and examination to identify and correct any problems. That work will continue until mid-December.

"The unit will then undergo environmental assessments that include electro-magnetic interference checks, vibration tests, and extended time in a thermal vacuum chamber. Environmental testing is anticipated to run from mid-December to early March 2009. Final testing will be conducted on the unit, and delivery to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is expected in early April."

Hubble Program Manager Preston Burch said: "The equipment we are dealing with has a flight-proven design. The original unit on Hubble ran for more than 18 years. We have a lot of spare parts if we encounter problems, and we have most of the same test equipment that was used with the original unit. We also have a lot of experience on our Hubble electrical replica, which uses the engineering model data handling unit." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.