NASA announced on Friday that it has switched to backup computing hardware on the Hubble Space Telescope, potentially ending over a month of uncertainty regarding the telescope’s future. The success came just two days after the agency indicated that it had narrowed down the source of the original fault.
The iconic telescope has been offline since mid-June, when the payload computer started failing in attempts to write data to memory. This computer is responsible for both managing the scientific instruments and ensuring that the data they produce is sent back to Earth. While its failure didn’t pose any dangers to the hardware itself, it left the telescope unable to perform any observations.
The telescope is equipped with backups for all its computing hardware (and in the case of the memory, backups for the backups). But every attempt to switch to one of these resulted in the same errors, suggesting that the problem wasn’t with the memory or processing hardware but rather part of the hardware that supports the entire system. Attention eventually focused on the power supply. As NASA put it: