Is the Hubble Space Telescope Dead?

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russ_watters
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Summary:
A computer glitch has rendered the HST inoperable. Is it the end?
I first saw note of this about a week ago and I don't think it has gotten enough attention:
On June 13, a crucial component that operated the telescope stopped working. The instrument automatically placed itself in safe mode and it notified NASA operators of the situation. The operators have tried valiantly to fix the wayward computer, but they failed. As of this Wednesday, the Hubble Space Telescope is not operational.
https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/30/opinions/hubble-telescope-glitch-opinion-lincoln/index.html

While I don't want to eulogize too soon, I'm wondering where the HST ranks in the annals of the most significant scientific instruments in human history. Surely it has to be near the top.
 
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  • #2
Keith_McClary
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This July 4 article says:
Given the complexity of switching multiple systems over to their backups, the operations team is currently reviewing and updating all of Hubble‘s operations procedures, commands, and all other items relating to switching to backup hardware. When they are finished (expected for next week) the team will run a high-fidelity simulator to test their plan of execution and see if they can pull it off.
Edit:
Also Phil Plait who worked on Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS):
https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/hubble-on-the-bubble-can-nasa-fix-the-worlds-most-famous-telescope
 
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  • #4
DennisN
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I'm wondering where the HST ranks in the annals of the most significant scientific instruments in human history. Surely it has to be near the top.
I think so too. :smile:
 
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DaveE
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I'm wondering where the HST ranks in the annals of the most significant scientific instruments in human history. Surely it has to be near the top.
The best photo ever taken - The Hubble Ultra Deep Field

heic0611b.jpg


 
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  • #6
websterling
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It appears that it lives on-

July 16, 2021 - NASA Successfully Switches to Backup Hardware on Hubble Space Telescope

NASA has successfully switched to backup hardware on the Hubble Space Telescope, including powering on the backup payload computer, on July 15. The switch was performed to compensate for a problem with the original payload computer that occurred on June 13 when the computer halted, suspending science data collection.
 
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  • #7
websterling
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It appears not only that it's alive, but it's well and returned to work!

Hubble Returns to Full Science Observations and Releases New Images


NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is back in business, exploring the universe near and far. The science instruments have returned to full operation, following recovery from a computer anomaly that suspended the telescope’s observations for more than a month.
 
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  • #8
Fervent Freyja
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The James Webb is reported to be superior to the Hubble. It’s supposed to released in November. From what I know, they’ll work together, but now I’m wondering how if they have a plan for if the Hubble has to be scrapped? The James Webb has already oversubscribed observing time to different programs, so what happens to the programs/observation slots being ran through Hubble? It could be a mess.
 
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Vanadium 50
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The James Webb is reported to be superior to the Hubble.
Not on the ground, it's not.
It’s supposed to released in November.
We hope.
The James Webb has already oversubscribed observing time to different programs, so what happens to the programs/observation slots being ran through Hubble?
They stop when Hubble does.

First, JWST is an infrared telescope, not a visible telescope like Hubble. Second, everyone applying for time on Hubble knows we are in year 32 of a 15 year expected lifetime.
 
  • #10
DennisN
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we are in year 32 of a 15 year expected lifetime
Wow, I did not know that. Quite impressive. :smile:
 
  • #12
Fervent Freyja
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Not on the ground, it's not.
Obviously.

We hope.

What problems could occur that would push the release back? I think that it’s a go here. I’m betting before the year ends. Aren’t people pushing hard on getting it launched?
First, JWST is an infrared telescope, not a visible telescope like Hubble. Second, everyone applying for time on Hubble knows we are in year 32 of a 15 year expected lifetime.
That all makes sense.
 
  • #13
DennisN
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The best photo ever taken - The Hubble Ultra Deep Field
I posted this video before in the "Our Beautiful Universe" thread.
I like the video because it gives at least some intuition about the scales of space and time involved, and also about the development of galaxies and the estimated number of galaxies in the observable Universe.

Ultra Deep Field: Looking Out into Space, Looking Back into Time (Hubble Space Telescope)

This six-minute visual exploration of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field showcases the characteristics and contents of this landmark observation, as well as its three-dimensional nature across both space and time. In particular, galaxies are seen to more than 12 billion light-years away / 12 billion years ago, allowing astronomers to trace the development of galaxies across cosmic time. [...]

 
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