NASA Another Step Closer to Restoring Full Hubble Space Telescope Operations

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Hubble Space Telescope Over the Earth

3D animation showing the Hubble Space Telescope over the Earth. Credit: ESA/Hubble (M. Kornmesser & L. L. Christensen)

NASA continues bringing the Hubble Space Telescope back to normal science operations, most recently recovering the Wide Field Camera 3 instrument Sunday, November 21. This camera will be the second of Hubble’s instruments, after the Advanced Camera for Surveys, to resume science after suspending the spacecraft’s observations on October 25. The Wide Field Camera 3’s first science observation since the anomaly will be on November 23.

The team chose to restore the most heavily used Hubble instrument, the Wide Field Camera 3, which represents more than a third of the spacecraft’s observing time. Engineers also began preparing changes to the instrument parameters, while testing the changes on ground simulators. These changes would allow the instruments to handle several missed synchronization messages while continuing to operate normally if they occur in the future. These changes will first be applied to another instrument, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, to further protect its sensitive far-ultraviolet detector. It will take the team several weeks to complete the testing and upload the changes to the spacecraft.

Although the team has identified no further message losses since monitoring began November 1, NASA is taking extra steps to keep the hardware safe in case the issue reoccurs. Investigation continues into the cause of the missed messages. The remaining Hubble instruments are still in safe mode and the rest of the spacecraft continues to operate as expected.

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