NASA’s Next Steps to Return Hubble Space Telescope to Normal Operation

Hubble Space Telescope First Servicing Mission

The first servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope saw astronauts install a set of specialized lenses to correct the flawed main mirror in the telescope. Credit: NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys has continued collecting science data as NASA works to address the anomaly that started October 25. Missed synchronization messages halted science production at that time, and the team has identified no additional missed messages since monitoring began November 1.

Hubble’s additional instruments have remained in safe mode while NASA takes steps to recover them to operational status. The rest of the telescope is operating as expected.

During the past week, the Hubble team has identified near-term changes that could be made to how the instruments monitor and respond to missed synchronization messages, as well as to how the payload computer monitors the instruments. This would allow science operations to continue even if several missed messages occur. The team has also continued analyzing the instrument flight software to verify that all possible solutions would be safe for the instruments.

This upcoming week, the team will begin to determine the order to recover the remaining instruments, including schedules for changing the instrument parameters before testing and developing the procedures. They also will test these changes to ensure they work as planned while continuing to isolate the root cause of the error.

The team expects it will take several weeks to complete these activities for the first instrument. The team has not yet determined which instrument would receive these changes first. In the meantime, they will start taking steps to recover Wide Field Camera 3 with no new changes next week, as was done with the Advanced Camera for Surveys, as an interim and low-risk step toward resuming normal science operations.

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