30 September 2008

Hubble problems

The Hubble Space Telescope is currently dead. The electrical circuit that controls ALL the cameras on the telescope, called Side A, has ceased functioning. The HST also cannot send any data. It can however be pointed in different directions (for what purpose though?), and can otherwise communicate with mission control. The HST also has a backup circuit, called Side B, that can provide power to the cameras - everything on these ships is built with multiple redundancy, even when they're serviceable. Unfortunately Side B hasn't been tested in orbit in the 18 years Hubble's been up - we knew Side A was working, so why mess with a good thing? (It did test out good before launch though.) They're currently working on switching over to Side B, but it may take a few days if all goes well, or a few months if not.

Meanwhile the servicing mission for mid-October has been put on hold. If they're not able to bring Side B online, I'm sure they will alter the postponed mission's objectives to start with fixing either Side A or B, or possibly installing a Side C, whichever seems easiest.

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