What’s Happening With The Hubble Space Telescope?

Have you ever heard of the Hubble space telescope? It is probably the most known telescope of all time because he provided us with images like this: Hubble changed our understanding of the universe, and over time we learned to love it. The life of HST was not an easy one: NASA had some troubles that had to be adjusted. And every time, in some ways, they managed to repair it. But now it seems Hubble is in trouble again, and scientists are trying to figure out why. But how did NASA repair a Hubble space telescope? And what will NASA do next? Maybe Hubble’s gonna get repaired again. In this video, we will tell you what we know. Orbiting high above Earth, in the so-called LOW EARTH ORBIT, the Hubble space telescope has one of the clearest views of the universe. His sight is free from the blurring and absorbing effects on the atmosphere. It is sensitive to infrared light, visible light and it can detect also ultraviolet light, which is impossible to detect for a ground-based telescope because it is absorbed by the atmosphere and therefore visible only from space. Hubble has beamed hundreds of thousands of celestial images back to Earth during its journey in space. Each instrument on HST was designed to examine the universe in a different way. Using its cameras, Hubble captures framed images. Using spectrographs breaks the light into colors for analysis. Together, this is probably the most important data we have about our universe. However, these are not the only instruments that have flown aboard Hubble. In fact, the telescope was designed to be visited periodically by a crew of astronauts. Can you imagine that? Astronauts bringing new instruments and technology, from time to time, from Earth to the HST. This is not science fiction. Hubble was launched in 1990, and from December 1993 to May 2009, our beloved telescope was repaired and updated four times. This actually means that astronauts visited HST five times in order to make repairs and add new instruments. The first problem, and maybe the most famous one, that Hubble had was the one with the primary mirror. After its launch in April 1990, NASA discovered that the primary mirror was flawed. It didn’t work as expected, because it has an aberration that affected the clarity of the telescope’s early images. The flaw was tiny, only about 1/50th the width of a human hair, but significant enough to distort Hubble’s vision. During the so-called Servicing Mission 1 in December of 1993, astronauts added corrective optics to compensate for the flaw. The optics acted like eyeglasses to correct Hubble’s vision. Also, in 1997 the servicing mission 2 took part, whose aim was to extend Hubble’s wavelength range into the near-infrared for imaging and spectroscopy, allowing scientists to probe the most distant reaches of the universe. The replacement of failed or degraded spacecraft components increased efficiency and performance. Then, in 1999, with service mission, 3A and 3B Hubble entered a state of dormancy, called safe mode, while NASA’s astronauts were trying to repair one of Hubble’s six gyros. During Servicing Mission 3B, astronauts also replaced Hubble’s solar panels and installed the Advanced Camera for Surveys, which took the place of Hubble’s Faint Object Camera, the telescope’s last original instrument. The last servicing mission happened in 2009 when two new scientific instruments were installed — the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Two failed instruments, the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) were revived by the first-ever on-orbit repairs. With these efforts, Hubble was brought to the apex of its scientific capabilities. To prolong Hubble’s life, new batteries, new gyroscopes, a new science computer, were also installed during the mission’s five spacewalks. Additionally, a device was attached to the base of the telescope to facilitate de-orbiting when the telescope is eventually decommissioned. This is a wise choice because we don’t want Hubble to fall towards Earth breaking houses! Instead, we maybe want to celebrate it at the end of its mission, and put it in a museum so that everybody can show love and respect to one of the most important instruments humanity has ever conceived. Hubble has taken over 600,000 additional observations to exceed 1.5 million during its lifetime. Those observations continue to change our understanding of the universe. It has contributed to some of the most significant discoveries of our cosmos, including the accelerating expansion of the universe, the evolution of galaxies over time, and the first atmospheric studies of planets beyond our solar system. Read more about some of Hubble’s But now Hubble is getting old, and it seems to have some issues. Scientists are trying to figure out what’s happening, but it’s hard to say. But what exactly happened? Before answering this question, be sure to like or dislike the video so that we can continue to improve and make these videos better for you the viewer. Plus, be sure to subscribe to the channel by clicking the bell so that you don’t miss ANY of our weekly videos. What happened is that the Hubble Space Telescope’s payload computer, which operates the spacecraft’s scientific instruments, went down suddenly on June 13. Without it, the instruments onboard meant to snap pictures and collect data are not currently working. Scientists have run a series of tests on the malfunctioning computer system but have yet to figure out what went wrong. “It’s just the inefficiency of trying to fix something which is orbiting 400 miles over your head instead of in your laboratory,” Paul Hertz, the director of astrophysics for NASA, told. “If this computer were in the lab, we’d be hooking up monitors and testing the inputs and outputs all over the place, and would be really quick to diagnose it,” he said. “All we can do is send a command from our limited set of commands and then see what data comes out of the computer and then send that data down and try to analyze it.” Nasa continues its efforts to diagnose the problems on the Hubble space telescope and return the veteran space mission to full operation. Science operations were suspended on 13 June when the computer responsible for the specific instruments began to malfunction. The science instruments themselves were automatically placed into safe mode, and the rest of the telescope continued to function normally. Tests of the payload computer indicated the problem was not in the computer’s memory as originally thought, but somewhere else in the science instrument command and data handling unit (SI C&DH). The team is investigating a unit that formats commands and data within the telescope, and a power regulator designed to ensure a steady voltage to the payload computer’s hardware. Once the faulty piece of equipment has been identified, the team will most likely have to switch to backup hardware that is already installed on the spacecraft. This is a delicate operation that will be practiced in computer simulations on Earth first. A similar operation took place in 2008 after a previous formatting unit failed. A servicing mission in 2009 then replaced the entire SI C&DH unit with the one currently being used. Full science operations are expected to resume in due course. However, the telescope itself, which runs on a different system than the Advanced Camera and spectrograph, has continued to operate by pointing at different parts of the sky on a set schedule. The reason NASA do that is so that the telescope keeps changing its orientation relative to the sun in the way that we had planned, and that maintains the thermal stability of the telescope, keeps it at the right temperature. The last time astronauts visited Hubble was in 2009 for its fifth and final servicing mission. Maybe now it’s time for a sixth mission? We don’t actually know. But someone says that because Hubble was designed to be serviced by the space shuttle and the space shuttle fleet has since been retired, there are no future plans to service the outer space observatory. So will this be the end of Hubble’s work? Did we really come to the end of an era? We just have to see what NASA’s gonna do. Meanwhile, NASA is building another space telescope. It is called the James Webb Space Telescope. It will be bigger than Hubble. Webb will not orbit Earth as Hubble does. Webb will orbit the sun in a spot on the other side of the moon. The Webb telescope will be able to see a different kind of light than the light Hubble sees and will help NASA see even more of the universe. Its launch is planned for the end of 2021 from French Guiana, on a European space agency Ariane 5 rocket. So…crossed fingers and we will soon have another beloved telescope orbiting Earth. Webb’s mission lifetime after launch is designed to be at least 5-1/2 years and could last longer than 10 years. The lifetime is limited by the amount of fuel used for maintaining the orbit, and by the possibility that Webb’s components will degrade over time in the harsh environment of space. It will push us to dream bigger and bigger and to understand more and more about our universe. For example, James Webb space telescope will: Use quasars to unlock the secrets of the early universe; observe ices molecules and minerals; monitor the weather of planets and their moons. However, Webb will be beyond the reach of any manned vehicle currently being planned for the next decade, because it will be operated at the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point (L2), located approximately 1 million miles (1.5 million km) away from the Earth. Hubble is in low-Earth orbit, located approximately 375 miles (600 km) away from the Earth, and is therefore readily accessible for servicing.