back to article NASA fixes Hubble Space Telescope using backup power supply unit, payload computer

NASA’s beloved Hubble Space Telescope is able to snap the heavens again after overcoming a hardware issue that had plagued it for more than a month. Its onboard payload computer, which controls its instruments, mysteriously froze, forcing the main computer to put the orbiting observatory's sensors into an inactive safe mode. …

  1. Anon
    Boffin

    YAY NASA!

    YAY NASA!

    YAY CAREFUL AND CONSIDERED ENGINEERING!

    Thank you to all the people who have worked so hard on this.

    1. ClockworkOwl
      Pint

      Re: YAY NASA!

      YAY indeed !!!

      And several uncarefull and inconsiderate beers all round!

      Over delivery is becoming the norm. I hope you're listening JWST...

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: YAY NASA!

        :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

        <sigh of relief>

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: YAY NASA!

      Absolutely.

      Hallelujah, Amen and thank God for NASA engineers !

      1. ravenviz
        Angel

        Re: YAY NASA!

        If God had written about cosmology properly we wouldn’t need telescopes to find out about “form and void”.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: YAY NASA!

          Definitely lack of documentation. Maybe it's still being written, but I wouldn't count on it.

          1. Snowy Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: YAY NASA!

            Next thing you'll be asking for the source code to go with that documentation.

            1. ravenviz
              Coat

              Re: YAY NASA!

              Probably written in Holy See!

              1. keithpeter Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: YAY NASA!

                224

          2. Lil Endian
            Joke

            Re: YAY NASA!

            The writing is WIP as God's banging his head on his desk, cos:

            "It looks like you're writing the Cosmology of the Multiverse. Would you like help wi.... *Glurp*"

            Good job NASA et alia ;)

            [Sorry, I was just reading Microsoft solicits Clippy comeback...]

          3. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

            Re: YAY NASA!

            About par for the course as legacy system maintenance goes.

        2. Bryan Hall

          Re: YAY NASA!

          It's not like most of you all read the owner's manual as it is...

      2. Julz Silver badge

        Re: YAY NASA!

        No god involved.

    3. big_D Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: YAY NASA!

      I feel sorry for the engineer that now has to make his way out there and replace that PCU.

      Keeping that 4 hour emergency response time is going to be a bugger! :-D

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: YAY NASA!

        I was just thinking how wonderful it would be if we had a system - say, a reusable spacecraft designed to repair things. It could have a large area for things to be taken up or to provide a base for repairs, and maybe a powered arm to hold things or provide a platform for astronauts to work from. Specialists could be selected for each mission, flown up by dedicated flight-crew. At the end of the mission, the craft could reenter the atmosphere and land on a runway. Of course, that's just science fiction, isn't it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: YAY NASA!

          This is actually why I was interested in the approach that Virgin has taken. If they can scale this up to higher orbits and make some sort of engineering vehicle it could eventually make satellite repair more affordable, also because you wouldn't need super healthy people that can take several Gs during takeof. Still need to train them for space, though, but I like having options.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Boffin

            Re: YAY NASA!

            'Scaling up' suborbital to orbital is ... not easy. The Δv they need from their current velocity (which Wikipedia says is 4,000km/h to orbital velocity (7.5km/s) is almost the same as orbital velocity.

            1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

              Re: YAY NASA!

              It is not just the increase in velocity for orbit they need, it is coping with re-entry, that is the really tricky bit.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: YAY NASA!

                Yes, she told me that before.

                :)

        2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: YAY NASA!

          We don't really know the capabilities of the X-37 "spy shuttle"...If I had a bunch of spy satellites up there, I might be interested in a repair capability.

          Just sayin'

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: YAY NASA!

          Unless you're thinking of that overly expensive, cumbersome and marginally reusable last hurrah of the space race against the Russkis, which did not deliver on almost any of its promised features, then yes, it still is science fiction.

      2. Flywheel Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: YAY NASA!

        They'll assign it to OpenReach who will examine the situation from Earth and declare "no fault found".

    4. Brad16800
      Pint

      Re: YAY NASA!

      If a news article ever needed a beer icon it's this one. Good job all involved.

  2. mark4155
    Pint

    Great news....until.

    Indeed great news.

    These white coated boffins are amazing! Wonder what next bit of kit fails? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

    Icon= Glass half empty.

    Toodle Pip!

    1. Brian Miller

      Re: Great news....until.

      ... Until the deorbit mission fails. That's when there will be real problems!

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Great news....until.

        Hubble is very similar to the dozen or so KH-11 spy satellites the NRO has operated (which have been replaced by the newer KH-12 which is probably of similar size and orbital altitude at least) and those have presumably been deorbited without issue.

        At least you'd think it would make the news if a spy satellite crashed down in someone's backyard.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Great news....until.

          It does. Kosmos 954

        2. Yes Me Silver badge

          Re: Great news....until.

          Hmm. I'm not sure about the similarity to the Keyholes. Apart from the fact that the latter point towards Earth instead of away, they were not co-designed with Hubble at all. I heard that somebody from the dark side sat in on the Hubble design team, taking notes but basically saying nothing, occasionally nodding and smiling when they happened to re-invent the same things as the early KHs.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Great news....until.

            The Hubble used the KH-11 platform - the Keyhole program came first and without it leveraging that technology heavily there likely would not have been a Hubble. The focal length for Hubble was a lot longer, but the 2.4m main mirror assembly, location of instrument bay, etc. is identical to KH-11.

            The NRO even gave NASA two "leftover" KH-11s about 10 years ago, with the idea they could be retrofitted as space telescopes. One has been outfitted to fulfill the WFIRST (now called Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope) mission and is set to launch in a few years. Because the KH-11 has a shorter focal length its field of view is 100x larger than Hubble, but for the WFIRST mission that was considered an advantage.

            The other KH-11 remains in storage.

          2. Dazed and Confused

            Re: Great news....until.

            You might like to take a look at Neil deGrasse Tyson's Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military.

            There is quite a bit of discussion about the relationship with the KH11 and its offspring Hubble.

        3. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: Great news....until.

          While the Perkin-Elmer designed Hubble camera is said to be very similar to those used in reconnaissance satellites, I'm not sure that the rest of the platforms are all that similar. Hubble's orbit is higher presumably because it isn't trying to capture high resolution images of Earth bound objects. And the inclinations are quite different -- 28 degrees vs (mostly) 97 degrees. The probable reasons for the high inclination are interesting, but more complicated than I care to get into. They wouldn't apply to Hubble whose orbit parameters likely depend more on the latitude of the Cape Canaveral launch facility than anything else. Inclination is important as it strongly influences what latitude band the deorbiting satellite can come down in.

          Actually, I doubt the spooks care all that much if their 12 tonne (or more) spy satellite lands on someone, but I'm guessing that that they very much care if it crashes in Russia, China, or some place else where (potentially) hostile intelligence folks can collect and analyze whatever pieces survive. So deorbiting is presumably a significant part of spy satellite mission planning.

          For Hubble on the other hand, deorbiting seems to have been left as a problem for future generations. At least that's what a quick internet search leads me to believe.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Great news....until.

            The rest of the platform (other than the contents of the instrument bay and focal length) is basically identical to KH-11. Without the KH-11, there probably would never have been a Hubble, since it heavily leveraged that technology. The camera is the main difference - the NRO keeps that classified and even removed all the CCDs and other imaging gear from the two KH-11 they donated to NASA about 10 years ago.

            1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
              Black Helicopters

              Re: Great news....until.

              ...which means, of course, that they have a better replacement :-)

              IIRC, one of the (formerly) top secret advances in the KH-11, was a deformable mirror to compensate for atmospheric distortion. How they figured out what the distortion was, in order to counteract it, is probably another big secret.

              BRB...someone at the door...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Boffin

                Re: Great news....until.

                Probably they do it the same way that adaptive optics systems for telescopes do it, with a laser guide star (or laser guide 'ground feature' probably).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Great news....until.

            "but I'm guessing that that they very much care if it crashes in Russia, China, or some place else where (potentially) hostile intelligence folks can collect and analyze whatever pieces survive"

            I'm guessing that ensuring the spy satellite flies over the areas they want to observe is far more of a concern than where it eventually deorbits. Unfortunately, I suspect that orbits that let you observe Russia and China also mean you could eventually crash in Russia or China.

        4. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Great news....until.

          When NASA wanted to test the Hubble main and secondary mirrors together they did not have a collimator big enough, so they asked if they could use the NSA's. The NSA replied 'yes, but only if we get to point it down some of the time.' As it was an international venture NASA could not agree to that, so Hubble was launched into space without a collimation test and the faulty optics revealed.

          So I'm guessing that although the NSA had some excellent spy satellites at the time, none was quite as powerful as Hubble. Of course that might have changed, as the DoD had their own space shuttle and did quite a few launches of their own...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Alien

            Re: Great news....until.

            I see. They had this special big collimator but they'd just made it for fun, not because they wanted to use it on mirrors.

            And they had a secret extra space shuttle (no, not the X-37 which did not exist then and is anyway too small), and that's not at all a made up story from West Wing.

          2. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Great news....until.

            Pointing Hubble down would be pointless - you’d just get a smear, it can’t track fast enough.

          3. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Great news....until.

            The Hubble has a much longer focal length so it would image an area 100x smaller than the KH-11, but (if the secondary mirror assembly wasn't off by a millimeter) would thus (in theory at least, if it could track fast enough etc.) be that much more detailed.

    2. TheWeetabix

      Re: Great news....until.

      I'm fairly certain it's not a coating, I think they look like that all the time.

  3. Def Silver badge
    Joke

    So they tried turning it off and on again, and when that didn't work, they unplugged it, and plugged it back in again.

    We've all been there, NASA, we've all been there. :)

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Not quite as basic.

      They changed the power supply.

      Which is indeed a very common replacement (on cheaply sourced pc in my old job - no, I'm not suggesting the Hubble parts were sub standard, our power supplies failed after only a couple of years, I think just outside warranty).

      Great job though!

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        My Dyson lamp* started to switch itself off at inconvenient times. They sent me a new power supply unit, it works fine now (well, so far). Though this came through the post, so not as tricky as fixing Hubble.

        *Yes, I am easily seduced by shiny tech toys, I admit it. Is there a tech equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          I was going to suggest Accessories Anonymous, but I suspect that may full of teenage girls with 3000 different coloured scrunchies and other cheap "fashion" tat :-)

          1. MrReynolds2U Bronze badge

            Nah mate, that's Accessorize Anonymous :)

            1. slimshady76

              Bedazzler anonymous?

        2. Roger Greenwood

          Try this:-

          https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/test-equipment-anonymous-(tea)-group-therapy-thread/

          I can stop anytime......

          1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

            Nah, I'm not into test equipment, it is the full-blown fanboi shiny shiny stuff I like, although I have managed to avoid the latest iMacs on the basis that a) I cannot decide what colour it should be, and 2) they don't have an SD card slot. (Mainly 'a', of course, but '2' is the one I tell the salespeople.)

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Hope they remembered to set the 120/240 switch correctly :-)

    2. Nifty Silver badge

      First port of call if your set top box/beloved old PVR fails... see if you can source a cheap replacement power supply and test.

      1. MrBanana Silver badge

        Easy to check out before spending any money if you have access to a bench power supply . When my Blu-ray player failed it was pretty easy to point the finger at the PSU, since the top of one of the chips in that module had literally blown off. I found the remains rattling around the case, and could just about read the number. But a replacement was no longer available and a new board was more than the €12.50 I paid second hand for the whole player. Still can't chuck it out though, there must be some parts useable for future projects?

        [ I've just moved house and it needed two trips to the dump to dispose of the "some parts useable" stash that I had before. Now just starting again... ]

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Fingers uncrossed.

  5. PRR

    It's always either the 1) O2 sensor, 2) the DNS, or 3) the power supply.

    No O2 sensor in space. No name-service neither. Ergo must be power supply.

    But like any commodity tech support, you have to follow the script, pick-up every stitch, boffins are out to make it rich, redundant rabbits runnin' in the ditch, must be the season of the twitch.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      We're your next contestants, the Hubble Brothers Blues Band.

      Without a warning, they broke the part, the comp wasn't working, they tore 't apart.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Even without name resolution required it would still be DNS, it’s always DNS

  6. swm Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Congratulations

    I think it is amazing what can be done from the ground to "fix" aging hardware in space that has outlived its expected life by a decade. This shows the value of designing redundancy into a device properly and using this redundancy properly. All of this through a narrow radio channel!

    I am incredibly impressed.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Congratulations

      Pah! They were always re-routing the power in Star Trek, on a weekly basis! Even The Doctor knew all you had to do was reverse the polarity of the neutron flow to avoid disaster.

      1. MrBanana Silver badge

        Re: Congratulations

        Nah, it was the Flux Capacitor, surely.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Congratulations

          Any fule no that Startrek has plasma relays, not flux capacitors!

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Congratulations

      It is indeed impressive that they were/are able to do this, thanks to careful forethought and disaster recovery planning, particularly so long after its design lifetime.

      However, any bean counter worth his salt must be so distraught at all these extra beans that have been unnecessarily[0] to make it possible.

      I find it distressing that the bean counter attitude is still so prevalent... as above, so below.

      [0] in the view of the counter of beans.

  7. aregross

    I'm sure

    ...there's a 6mm hole that an errant nut (or bolt) created on it's way through the Hubble.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I'm sure

      If it was moving fast enough to pass through, the kinetic energy dissipation would likely have been a bit explosive and have left a slightly larger hole, especially at the exit side of the event.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: I'm sure

        "1 thumb down"

        Oh, wow! I think I pissed someone off. EVERY post of mine from at least the last few days has just had a downvote added. I think I've got a stalker! Do I get my gold badge now?

        1. Nifty Silver badge

          Re: I'm sure

          There's a queue.

  8. Michael Hoffmann
    Happy

    Heavy winds here last night

    ... now I know that was the held breaths rom thousands of NASA engineers and scientists going around the world. All exhaling simultaneously.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heavy winds here last night

      Either that or they all went out for a curry to celebrate.

  9. Denarius Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Well done

    BZ all round. Shows what real engineering looks like. Now if only someone had spacecraft that could do a servicing mission. Oh, and launch a modern version. Far ultraviolet is not possible down here

  10. gandalfcn Silver badge

    And no ego driven prima donna billionaires involved.

  11. ITMA

    Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

    That in an odd way reminds me of a problem (years) ago when I had to go to an MOD site to figure out why a page printer (LED not laser) was producing garbled printouts from a mainframe it was connected to via RS-232.

    The slight complexity was there was no separate "flow control" on the host systems serial interface, so it was all running via XON/XOFF.

    Off I went down to the site in the South West - one of those with soldiers on the gates with real guns loaded with real bullets! - complete with an old "luggable" RS-232 protocol analyser with built in 5" CRT. Everything seemed ok, except a lot of the XOFFs which should have been sent by the printer to tell the host system to shut up for a bit, seemed to be being ignored or even missing.

    One of our field engineers had been down to it twice and changed most of the controller boards - the serial interface board had been replaced 3 times. All to no effect.

    Bit of thinking then out came the multi-meter and onto the PSU. The +12V and -12V outputs were somewhat low (less than +8V and -8V respectively). Turns out that those voltages, only used by the serial interface, (standard RS-232 signalling levels) were just too low for it signal reliably to the host system. So it just wasn't "hearing" the XON/XOFFs.

    New PSU, with the correct outputs and normal service resumed.

    And I got to "chaperone" one of our other printers on the same site which was going through "naval submarine" validation testing. Basically subjecting it to various shock levels (on a huge shock table) in various orientations to ensure:

    1. It worked up to a certain level.

    2,. Above that it didn't have to work but nothing had to fly off (simulated battle conditions).

    And the last test - see just how stood up to "destruction level shock testing". Basically give it the highest level shock and see what happened. It was prettyy buggered inside, but only the main "smoked plastic" cover flew over 15 feet away, a couple of knows flew off and something cracekd. Otherwise stayed pretty intact.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

      Fun ain't they getting in with security ranging from the "Just go in" to the third party security guy that would let you in after restating they needed 24 hours notice (Yet again) & the whole checking the underside of the vehicle with mirrors for bombs. I did the ones in Devon, I think one in Cornwall, Whale Island & Norton Fitzwarren. There was also one side trip to the base of the SBS while returning from Whale Island.

      Royal Marines if anyone's interested & hasn't worked it out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

        My car was very distinctive - and often subjected to the "mirror test" visiting my customers. I eventually started to do my own visual check after leaving the car parked in any relatively isolated public area.

        1. ITMA

          Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

          Strangely the worst place for security I ever visited was British Shoe in Leicester - a bloody shoe factory!

          My car was thoroughly searching twice going in, and THREE times when I went to leave site

          1. ThatOne Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

            Why, you could had stolen a shoe.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

              Was thin the braking news section?

            2. David 45

              Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

              A shoe? Only one? Is this singular? Are you regrettably devoid of a limb? To wit, one leg, Mr. Spigot? For those who don't know the joke, Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore. Audition for the part of Tarzan.

              1. ThatOne Silver badge
                Holmes

                Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

                > A shoe? Only one?

                Stealing two shoes, potentially even matching ones, would be considered organized crime.

          2. Juan Inamillion
            Coat

            Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

            Maybe they thought you'd have it away on your toes...

            /coat

          3. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

            Did they check your feet?

          4. Graham Cobb Silver badge

            Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

            And you really believed they only make shoes there?

        2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

          True story.

          I arrived at the RAF site on time. The guard on the gate gets out his wheelie mirror on a stick to view the underside of my 1999 registration Ford Focus motorcar. There is a pause while he manoeuvres it, then:

          Guard: "Ahhh."

          Me: Very tentatively "Have, have you found something?"

          Guard: "No, sir, I've just farted."*

          *(My physical presence and demeanour always inspire respect and deference in equal measure.)

      2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

        Our problem was never the security on the gate, our problem was always the brain dead squaddies/matlots left to guard whatever room we were installing the kit in.

        Come back from lunch and its "Cant let you in there , its all secret stuff"

        And my team leader would then point out that he'd designed it, bob had built it and I'd installed it and we all knew exactly what it was and what it did... and in any case you were here 30 mins ago and watched us all come out of that room saying we were off for lunch.

        I wonder if the military hand out awards for mindlessly following orders...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

          "I wonder if the military hand out awards for mindlessly following orders..."

          Definitely: Awards, promotions, medals, the works. Mindless obedience is the only way to make normal people throw away their lives for some arrogant bigwig's incompetence. The first World War was a striking example of this, hundreds of thousands of soldiers being sent to certain and pointless death, charging with fixed bayonets heavily fortified machine gun positions and being mowed down, assault after assault, just because of their generals' arrogance and stupidity insisted on "trying again". For several years the front only moved by a couple hundred meters, while the soldiers' corpses piled higher and higher on both sides.

          /rant

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

            All hail our Nazi overlords.

            Your post betrays a huge amount of ignorance. Also a complete disrespect for the privileged situation which you so clearly believe that you deserve.

            You'd be Trump, with spurs to escape the draft. Before calling all fallen troops 'losers'.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

              Learn to read, it might serve you one day. I'm 'calling losers' the generals which sent their troops to die needlessly, again and again. (Same generals which later collaborated so well with their soul mates the Nazis, BTW.)

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

      "Bit of thinking then out came the multi-meter and onto the PSU. The +12V and -12V outputs were somewhat low (less than +8V and -8V respectively). Turns out that those voltages, only used by the serial interface, (standard RS-232 signalling levels) were just too low for it signal reliably to the host system. So it just wasn't "hearing" the XON/XOFFs."

      Back in the old days of field engineering (MSDOS, so not all that long ago), I came across a similar incident involving a serial printer. I didn't have any of the right test gear you had, other than loop-back pluigs and a copy of CheckIt!. Anyway, there was clearly nothing wrong with the serial port as such and the printer worked on another PC. Out of curiosity as much as anything else, I tested the +/-12v and like you, got about 9v on each. Future visits to errant serial printers involving strange symptoms like missing characters etc, one of the first things was to just plug a new PSU in first since that was actually one of the quickest tests, ie they had leads long enough to not have to remove the old one for testing and I did once come across one where testing the 12v lines didn't show a problem (it was only a voltage drop under certain load conditions)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Sounds vaguely familiar.. LOL

        > it was only a voltage drop under certain load conditions

        To be fair though zero-load power supplies are very reliable

  12. ADJB
    Joke

    Not all good

    While I admire the skills involved in getting this all working again I am rather annoyed having just worked out how much I could have claimed in milage to do a site visit to fix it.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Not all good

      Enough to cover the fuel costs and vehicle hire fees? And the uprated insurance you'd need? :-)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Not all good

        It's only about 350mi away.

        Mileage clocked up while 'on-site' doesn't count

  13. Forget It
    Coffee/keyboard

    Hubble Bubble Toil

    now no Trouble!

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Hubble Bubble Toil

      Bummer.

      I was going to do “Hubble, Hubble, Boil and bubble”. As a heading and then mumbledy, mumbledy, something else as the body.

      Have a beer.

  14. tip pc Silver badge

    Outsource?

    NASA engineers seem to be able eek out performance and reliability from systems do old they would normally be decommissioned.

    Isn’t it time they outsourced this exceptional capability to the lowest bidder?

    That’s normally how it works.

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Joke

      "Huston, we have a problem!"

      "Sorry, Huston is no longer active, Mumbai here..."

  15. ITS Retired

    How complicated is the hardware on the Hubble, that allows all that mixing and matching from the ground? That in itself is an engineering marvel. Down here too many people can't even get WiFi to cover their home reliably.

  16. Juan Inamillion

    And still BT/OpenReach...

    ...can't fix the fibre connection to a client's house in Belgravia, central London, after 6 weeks of promises.

  17. DeVino

    Plenty of rendundancy and a little, thoughtful divide and conquer.

    Love it. Yo NASA engineers.

  18. JWLong Bronze badge

    Hubble

    .......is the poster child for Right to Repair.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't backup, just move forward to crash it

    Works for money losing startups, so go!

  20. JDPower666

    Now where have all those self proclaimed experts gone that claimed it could not fixed?

  21. Grunchy

    It’s the CAPACITORS

    I bet the backup PSU doesn’t last for very long. I predict it’s gonna need a cap job...

    1. StrangerHereMyself Bronze badge

      Re: It’s the CAPACITORS

      That's why I always design my electronics with sold-state capacitors. These last much longer.

  22. AlanSh

    What happens next time

    Do they have more spares?

    And my fanciful mind envisages a robot pulling a spare PSU from a drawer and plugging it in. How did they really do the swap?

    Alan

  23. FuzzyTheBear
    Mushroom

    they will never tell the real story ..

    The BOFH found his way into the telescope's computer and started to use it for bitcoin mining .. that overloaded the aging hardware and it failed.

    his fault .. the bastard ! Thank god they got it running again ..

  24. Sam Therapy
    Pint

    Good lads and lasses

    Have beers, many of. Celebrate science and all that stuff.

  25. StrangerHereMyself Bronze badge

    Any fuel left?

    I don't know how much fuel is left in Hubble, but if there's any it should NOW be used to de-orbit the thing.

    I mean, this thing is at least two decades past its designed lifetime and could fail at literally any moment. Having yet another hulk (here's looking at you EnviSat) floating around up there for hundreds of years as a potential collision target is unacceptable.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Any fuel left?

      Hubble doesn't have any fuel, rocket fuel was too dangerous for a payload that has to be approached by a crew.

      Pointing is done by reaction wheels and magnetic bars that 'push' against the Earth's field. Its orbit had to be boosted by space shuttle missions.

      But you don't have to worry about it staying up for more than another few years, it is too big and too low to remain for long. Although there is no specific plan for a de-orbit other than "thoughts and prayers"

      1. ITMA

        Re: Any fuel left?

        You are absolutely correct about Hubble using reaction wheels to do the essential job of pointing it in the correct direction.

        Astronomers, being picky buggers, do like to be able to move their telescope around to look at different things.

        However, while safety for crews approaching Hubble during servicing missions was a factor, it wasn't a major one. After all, STS crews would deploy payloads mounted on PAMs (Payload Assist Modules) which are basically a rocket powered platform for firing payloads out of orbit and off elsewhere (to the other planets etc).

        The major reason for the reaction wheels? Science....

        The alternatives were small maneuvering thrusters which used propellant - typically hydrazine - for moving things about in space. Fine if you are generally moving your spacecraft from Point A to Point B.

        If, as is the case with Hubble, you are not making it "go" anywhere, just slewing it around to point in different directions. Then your spacecraft can quickly end up sitting in a orbiting cloud of residue from the hydrazine.

        At best this will interfere with all the optical instruments - the whole point of it being in space was to get above most of the atmosphere so the last you want if for your spacecraft to create its own.

        At worst it get onto, and seriously contaminate, the surface of the single most critical component that could never be "swapped out - the main mirror.

  26. imanidiot Silver badge
    Pint

    Welcome back Hubble! --> some of those are in order

    Let's just hope the backup hardware doesn't crap out any time soon.

  27. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    It'll be a bunch of puffy capacitors. Typical.

  28. tiggity Silver badge

    Excellent

    At some point Hubble (& various other NAS bits of kit) do reach the stage where, despite all the skills of the teams, they can no longer be "revived" due to kit being damaged & alternative fixes exhausted.

    But really enjoy seeing the "saves" & kit getting an extended lifespan despite the odds (especially Hubble which has done some great science over the years & maybe even more importantly created some stunning images that have engaged some people previously not that interested in astronomy as public engagement is good as science should be for everyone to access in some form)

  29. Bowlers

    PCU

    I just loved the technical jargon in the article.

    "This part is supposed to maintain the voltage supply to the payload computer, and if it doesn't do its job right, the computer won't work."

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