After spending several weeks offline in safe mode, the Hubble Space Telescope was finally brought back online. NASA shared the tremendous update in a Twitter post. After spending the past month troubleshooting the issue, NASA has determined that the Power Control Unit (PCU) was to blame.
Originally, NASA thought the shutdown was caused by an aging memory module but was recently able to figure out the actual cause. The PCU is what continuously powers the telescope’s payload computer. The catch is that if the constant 5V flow fluctuates or falters even for a moment, the telescope automatically pauses its operations, which is what happened in this situation.
NASA’s team made multiple attempts to reset and otherwise troubleshoot the PCU, all to no success. At that point, NASA decided to formally switch to the telescope’s backup hardware. Although that’s a desperate measure to take, it seems to have done the trick!
The Hubble Space Telescope backup payload computer was successfully brought online after a successful switch to backup hardware. Following a short checkout period, the science instruments will be brought back to operational status.https://t.co/Wca2Puz4mT
— Hubble (@NASAHubble) July 16, 2021
In a recent press release, NASA stated that its team is now working to recover the scientific instruments on the telescope, which were also stored in safe mode. That will take several hours. Once the instruments reach stable operating temperatures and can be properly calibrated by NASA’s team, then Hubble will resume normal activity.
The 31-year-old telescope has been working hard for decades to help us further explore and understand our universe. Hopefully, its successor, the James Webb Telescope, will remain on track for its launch later this year; the two together will help us gather even more information about space at large, take even more stellar photos, and lessen the burden on the aging Hubble.