Hubble is officially back from the dead.
Recent reports by NASA say that the iconic space telescope has finally been brought back online after switching to its backup computer. According to DigitalTrends, NASA's scientists identified what caused the glitch, which advised them to change to two backups. This led to Hubble resuming its scientific functions last July 17.
The team behind Hubble broke the news, finding relief after the glitch that plagued them for five long weeks:
All instruments on the Hubble Space Telescope are now in operational status, and science data is once again being collected to further our understanding of the universe. https://t.co/1pskum8dXY— Hubble (@NASAHubble) July 17, 2021
This glitch, however, is something to be expected from a 31-year-old telescope. According to Business Insider, many members of the Hubble team attribute the problems due to the space telescope's age. While its hardware might've been cutting edge back in 1990, it's certainly not that fast now. Even modern smartphones likely have way more processing power than Hubble's main computer, which in itself is already telling.
Still, NASA is hoping that the fix they did will buy Hubble a few more years. Their solution involved turning on the backup computer, which was brought aboard as a contingency. However, this might mean that the old computer which suffered from a glitch still isn't entirely fixed; it was just switched off to prevent further issues from happening.
Hubble Space Telescope: An Icon in Space Exploration
Mankind still hasn't developed propulsion technology that will bring us to the furthest stars. For now, the Hubble Space Telescope is humanity's window to the cosmos, and it has performed spectacularly for over three decades.
Before its initial shutdown last July 13, its most amazing finds included a galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center. Located 118 million light years from Earth, the galaxy named NGC 3254 is classified as a Seyfert galaxy. This means that its center is putting out as much energy as the rest of its matter put together, according to NASA. Likely, that supermassive black hole is the culprit.
Another one of its most recent discoveries include snapping a photo of a supernova or the explosion of a star. But this wasn't just another supernova: it's one which was witnessed on Earth 1700 years ago. That was during the time when Alexander the Great's generals were dividing his empire shortly after his death.
What's Next for Hubble?
For now, the Hubble Space Telescope seems to work just fine on its backup computer. NASA has scheduled its next observation run within the coming days or weeks, once their calibrations and tests of the instruments are complete. They're also rescheduling other science operations suspended due to the glitch at many later dates.
But since it's old, is complete retirement and decommissioning imminent? If NASA is to be believed, not likely. In fact, they want to pair it with the upcoming James Webb telescope. Together, the two will be working in tandem in helping humanity uncover the long-lost secrets of the universe.
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Written by RJ Pierce