WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Editor's Note: The video above is from May 2020.
One month after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope halted operations due to an issue with its payload computer, experts finally have answers as to what went wrong.
According to the space agency, the Power Control Unit, which ensures a steady voltage flow to the payload computer's hardware, is behind the hold-up.
"The team’s analysis suggests that either the voltage level from the regulator is outside of acceptable levels (thereby tripping the secondary protection circuit), or the secondary protection circuit has degraded over time and is stuck in this inhibit state," NASA wrote.
No ground commands have been able to reset the Power Control Unit, meaning while the telescope and its science instruments are healthy, they're also inoperable at the moment.
The Hubble team will now switch the 31-year-old telescope over to its backup hardware. According to a press release, the switch started on July 15 and will take several days to bring the observatory back to normal operations.
"This is a pretty complicated approach because there are components on the spacecraft that are not related to the payload computer that also have to be switched to their backup elements," Hubble Systems Anomaly Response Manager Nzinga Tull said. "So, we've been preparing, reviewing our processes and procedures, making sure that all of those are in order."
A similar switch was performed in 2008 when NASA says a Command Unit/Science Data Formatter module failed. The following year, Hubble had its entire Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit replaced during a servicing mission.
Over the years, the Hubble Telescope has taken more than 1.5 million observations of the universe and spawned more than 18,000 scientific papers.
"[Hubble] has contributed to some of the most significant discoveries of our cosmos, including the accelerating expansion of the universe, the evolution of galaxies over time, and the first atmospheric studies of planets beyond our solar system," NASA wrote.
You can learn more about Hubble's exploration here.
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