08 Nov The Hubble Space Telescope is in ‘safe mode’ after its second shutdown of 2021

Source: DP Review

Lead image credit: NASA

US astronomers want a new space-based telescope to search for exoplanets, and perhaps the project can’t come soon enough. The Hubble Space Telescope’s scientific operations are on hold for the second time this year. After an extended offline period this summer, Hubble is in ‘Safe Mode’ as NASA scientists investigate what’s gone wrong with the telescope.

NASA writes, ‘NASA is continuing work to resolve an issue that has suspended science operations on the Hubble Space Telescope. The science instruments entered a safe mode configuration on Oct. 25 after detecting a loss of specific data synchronization messages.’ The Hubble team is working to isolate the problem on circuitry in the Control Unit hardware that is part of the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit. The Control Unit generates synchronization messages for the onboard instruments.

Hubble delivered a ringside seat to a supernova in the very earliest stage of exploding, giving astronomers an unprecedented view of the first moments of a star’s spectacular death: https://t.co/wTho0yQUb1 pic.twitter.com/5uSG7dTjrT

— Hubble Space Telescope (@HubbleTelescope) October 21, 2021

In addition to analyzing instruments, the team is also working to figure out a workaround for the issue, including ways to possibly change the instrument flight software to check for lost messages and compensate for them without instruments needing to go into safe mode. Possible workarounds would first be tested using ground simulators.

‘Over the weekend of Oct. 30, the team prepared to turn on parts of

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