the The Hubble Space Telescope has been showing his age for some time, but one new issue is proving particularly frustrating. As the PA reports, Nasa has spent almost a week (at the time of this writing) trying to troubleshoot a problem in the Hubble payload computer. The system crashed on June 13, and the operations team was unable to restart the computer on June 14, or switch to a backup memory module. The agency also repeatedly failed with both modules on the evening of June 17.
The telescope and its scientific instruments are still “in good health,” the agency said, although operators have put the instruments in safe mode as a precaution.
This is not the first bug of this kind this year. NASA spent days resurrect Hubble in March following a software error in the main flight computer. He also found that the voltage levels of the Wide Field Camera 3 had dropped over the decades, to the point that team members had to reduce those levels to avoid future problems.
As with this camera, age may play a role in the latter issue. Hubble’s payload system uses a 1980s NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer-1 (NSSC-1) that includes two computers and four 64K CMOS memory modules. Only one computer and one memory module are in use at any one time, but it may not matter much if multiple components fail. In this light, the James Webb Space Telescope can’t get there soon enough – while it was already touted as a successor to Hubble, it may be the only option if the old machine continues to crash at this kind of frequency.