NASA astronauts repairing Hubble's black hole hunter

Shuttle crew on second-to-last spacewalk of the telescope repair mission

The fourth spacewalk of the mission to repair and update the Hubble Space Telescope is under way, with astronauts working to bring back to life a key instrument that has been down for the last five years.

Mission specialists Mike Massimino and Mike Good are in the midst of the second-to-last spacewalk of the mission.

The spacewalk, the second of the mission for both Massiminio and Good, is focused on repairing the orbiter's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, or STIS.

The Imaging Spectrograph basically is NASA's major black hole hunter. It acts as a sort of outer space prism, separating light from the universe into its component colors, giving scientists a "wavelength fingerprint" of any object.

That data can offer clues to an object's temperature, chemical composition and motion.

The spectrograph is designed to pick up the light and color signature of black holes. It also helps astronomers map the motion of gas affected by a black hole's gravitational pull.

The spectrograph, which was installed on Hubble during a 1997 shuttle service mission, suffered a power supply failure in 2004 and has since been in safe mode, which means it's off but protected, NASA said.

Massimino and Good are scheduled to replace a low-voltage power supply board that contains the failed power converter.

The astronauts also are prepared today to install a stainless steel blanket on the outside of the telescope.

The blanket, which should offer thermal protection for equipment bays, will replace multi-layer insulation that has started to fall apart.

In Saturday's spacewalk, astronauts John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel worked to repair Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys -- the instrument behind some of the telescope's most impressive images of deep space.

It stopped working a little more than two years ago.

Wearing thick gloves and orbiting 354 miles above the Earth, Grunsfeld and Feustel removed electronics cards and cut through metal yesterday to repair the three cameras in the instrument. However, NASA announced this morning that one of the cameras did not come back to life after Saturday's spacewalk.

"The repair of the Advanced Camera for Surveys' high resolution [camera] was always considered a long shot," NASA said on its site. "It is likely down for good."

NASA said it still considers the overall repair mission of the Advanced Camera for Surveys a success because two of the three cameras are functioning.

Monday's spacewalk, which will be the fifth and the last of the mission, will focus on installing a battery module containing three batteries.

On Tuesday, the seven-astronaut crew will deploy the telescope. They're scheduled to return to Earth on Friday.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags spaceNASAhubble

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

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?