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Hubble Telescope Resumes Operation

October 30, 2008

The Hubble Space Telescope returned to normal operation on October 27.  The Hubble had failed a month ago when an electronic device that transfers data from the telescope to the ground failed.  After overcame some technical hurdles, NASA engineers were able to switch to backup electronics.  NASA announced their success on October 30 with a visual pun, a photograph of a pair of galaxies, known as Arp 147, that resemble the number 10.

Hubble image of Arp 147 galaxies, taken October 27, 2008.

This image shows the double-galaxy Arp 147.  Taken October 27, 2008.  Courtesy NASA, ESA, and M. Livio (STSci).

While the telescope is now able to send photographs of the sky down to Earth, it still is operating with a suspect data handling system.  As a consequence, the upcoming service mission to the telescope will carry a replacement data handling unit.  Before the failure experienced by Hubble over the past month, a service mission was to launch in the current October to replace instruments on the telescope.  With the electronic failure, the mission was delayed to the beginning of 2009.  The service mission is now set for May of 2009, which will give engineers time to test the replacement electronics that will be carried to the telescope.  The replacement system has been sitting at Goddard Space Flight Center since with was delivered in 1991.  Engineers are now testing the system to correct any problems it may have.  These tests are expected to be complete by mid-December.

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