NASA, the Hubble telescope offline for a week: attempts to repair it have failed

The famous phrase uttered by Jack Swigert – pilot of the ill-fated Apollo 13 lunar mission – “Houston we have a problem” – We immediately come to mind reading the latest agency released by NASA and which concerns the Hubble Space Telescope, which seems to have gone out of service due to a faulty memory card. System ko therefore from Sunday 13 June 2021: the card in tilt would have caused a series of technical problems to the main computer – the one that controls the scientific instruments – causing the interruption of all scheduled astronomical observation activities.

Controllers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland tried to restart it, but that didn’t fix the problem. After a long consultation, the technicians decided to upgrade to a backup memory unit. At the moment the cameras and other instruments are in so-called “safe mode” or “safe mode”, that is, they have turned off waiting to receive instructions.

Telescope in “Safe mode”

It is not the first time that the most famous space telescope in the world has had some technical problems. In 2008 there was a gyroscope problem, in 2019 the main chamber went out of order. All problems that found a solution but for several years NASA has stopped carrying out replacement missions, which in the past were vital for maintaining the telescope’s operation.

After all, it happens to our computers and laptops, let alone to delicate and sophisticated equipment that has to do with space. Hubble of NASA and ESA often in the past entered into safe mode due to the umpteenth failure of one of the gyroscopes, necessary to keep the telescope precisely oriented towards a certain observation point. But in general, experts assure, the instruments aboard Hubble are perfectly functional and the scientists have nothing to fear. Until…

From the time of the “Commodore 64”

“Time passes for everyone, you know ..” the saying is not only true for human beings but even more so for electronic equipment. The problems shown in these days by Hubble only accelerate the telescope’s definitive retirement, waiting for its powerful successor, the James Webb, to be placed in orbit around the Sun by the end of 2021. Moreover, Hubble is operational in low Earth orbit since 1990 and the components are starting to show signs of failure. Think that the new failure caused these days literally dates back to the time of the Commodore 64. To stop was in fact the payload computer, a NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer-1 (NSSC-1) system built even in the 80s. It ‘s true, the pension comes for everyone!