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Sci-Tech

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is back in action after hardware problem

It's alive! It's alive!

hubble.jpg
STS-82 Crew/STScI/NASA

On Jan. 8, the Wide Field Camera 3 on NASA's journeyman telescope Hubble went out of action. A hardware problem had caused the instrument to suspend operations.

The latest update from NASA is all good news though: Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 resumed science observations, snapping photos of the distant universe, just after midday, Jan. 17. 

Investigating the error from Jan. 8, NASA concluded that voltage levels had jumped outside their safe values, causing the suspension of operations. Further evaluations noted that voltage levels were OK, but telemetry circuits -- which help NASA collect data from the Telescope -- "were not accurate". A router-like reset had those telemetry circuits brought back to operations.

Wide Field Camera 3 is just one of Hubble's suite of instruments and while NASA worked to get it back to collecting science images, Hubble's other instruments continued to operate as normal. 

NASA says that Hubble should hang on beyond 2025, which would mean it has been investigating space for a solid 35 years. In that time, it has captured smiling faces in the cosmos and provided new ways to see dark matter. Recently, it took an unbelievable 1.6GB image of the Triangulum Galaxy you could basically fly through on your PC screen. 

Operated by both NASA and the European Space Agency, the Hubble Space Telescope was on a 15-year mission when it launched on April 25, 1990. The Wide Field Camera 3 was a Hubble upgrade, installed in May 2009 during its last servicing mission, which planned to extend Hubble's mission to 20 years. It's now in its 29th year of life.

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