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Mixed fortunes for Hubble October 31, 2008

Posted by Sarah in science.
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Hubble/WFPC2 image of interacting galaxies Arp 147

Hubble/WFPC2 image of interacting galaxies Arp 147

First, the good news: Hubble is back y’all! This stunning picture of the interacting galaxies known as Arp 147 was produced with the telescope’s workhorse camera, the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) since engineers brought the telescope back online just a few days ago following September’s failure. Engineers and astronomers having been working against the clock to get Hubble back up and running, and produce this really great picture, and they deserve all of our support and congratulations!

Unfortunately, however, NASA announced today that it won’t be able to meet the February 2009 date for the final Hubble servicing mission (SM4) to upgrade the telesope’s batteries and gyros and install new instruments. Originally planned to take place this month, the mission was pushed back to February 2009 after September’s failure of the data handling unit.

Following Hubble’s recent problems, NASA engineers decided to send up a flight spare of the data handling computer that failed in September with SM4. The spare, which has not been operated since 199, will need to be extensively tested and qualified for space flight – this includes testing of the different functions of the unit as well as a thorough verification that it will not fail under the harsh conditions of launch and in space.

A new date for SM4 has not yet been proposed and will have to be co-ordinated with the Space Shuttle schedule.

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