WASHINGTON — NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope returned to science operations July 17 after a hiatus of more than a month as controllers successfully switched the orbiting observatory to a backup payload computer.
NASA said the instruments of the 31-year-old telescope are now operational nearly five weeks after a payload computer, which commands those instruments, malfunctioned. Those instruments will resume normal science observations after completing calibrations.
After weeks of investigation, engineers concluded that the most likely cause of the payload computer problem was a malfunction of a power control unit, which supplies voltage to the hardware in the computer. With no ability to reset the power control unit from the ground, engineers decided to switch to the backup Science Instrument Command and Data Handling hardware, which has its own power control unit.
That transition to the backup hardware started July 15 and, by July 16, NASA reported success in turning on the backup computer system. By July 17, controllers had restored the science instruments from the safe modes they had been in since the payload computer malfunctioned June 13.
“I’m proud of the Hubble team, from current members to Hubble alumni who stepped in to lend their support and expertise,” NASA ...