Feeds

Hubble back in full snapping mode

Returns fetching first image from main camera

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.