NASA completes remote fix of Hubble's failed computer

Engineers switch telescope to redundant system as it orbits Earth

A team of NASA engineers and scientists completed a remote switchover from a failed computer in the Hubbard Space Telescope (HST) to an onboard backup system Wednesday.

In a normal enterprise, it's tough enough to power down a system, switch over to the redundant computer and then bring everything successfully back online. But, in this case, NASA did it from a room in the Goddard Space Flight Center in the US, while the telescope hurtled along its orbit around Earth at 17,500 mph.

"We won't know if we've been completely successful until around midnight Wednesday when we demonstrate that the [redundant system] is talking to the instruments and able to pass data to the ground," HST Operations Deputy Project Manager Keith Kalinowski said in a written statement.

The telescope, which has made more than 100,000 trips around Earth, was moved from the failed computer to the backup system. The backup computer then was loaded with data around noon and it successfully performed a data dump back to the ground to verify all the loads were proper, according to an email from NASA. Then, the team brought Hubble out of safe mode and placed the computer back in control.

NASA reported that its team will reconfigure the new system later today and test it to make sure it's functioning properly.

Late last month, the space agency announced that the computer failure was preventing data from being sent to Earth. Michael Moore, a program executive for the Hubble Space Telescope, has said that the computer problem is the worst the Hubble has suffered since it went into orbit more than 18 years ago.

This is the first Hubble computer malfunction that required the installation of a replacement system. "There's nothing young in the system," said Moore.

The problem lay in the Science Data Formatter, which is designed to take information from five onboard instruments, format it into data packets, put a header on it and then send it to Earth at speeds of up to 1Mbit/sec. Without this computer, Hubble can't take on long-planned research projects.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NASAhubble

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?