wHAT wE kNOW aBOUT the hubble space telescope’s recent software glitch

Since its launch by NASA in 1990, The Hubble Telescope has taken over 1.4 million intriguing pictures of galaxies, black holes, stars, and other dazzling extraterrestrial mysteries. Able to see almost 15 billion light-years away and costing over 10 billion dollars to build and maintain, the Hubble Telescope remains one of the most significant projects of NASA and important space telescopes in the world.

Below is a Twitter embed to a fascinating picture taken by the Hubble Telescope of the Eagle Nebula:
https://twitter.com/NASAHubble/status/1364669045514076160

 However, recently on March 7th, the telescope experienced a software glitch after the telescope’s code was modified. As a result of the glitch, the telescope went into “safe mode” when normal functionality is paused until the issues are resolved. Stemming from this glitch, two more new problems arose: The telescope’s door that stops extraneous sunlight from damaging components failed to shut and one of the telescope’s cameras also received a sudden error.  This recent glitch is yet another reminder of the telescope’s declining age and issues. In total, astronauts have flown to the telescope over five times, the last visit occurring in 2009, to repair and modify the telescope. Today, out of the six gyroscopes the Hubble Telescope consists of, only three work properly.

In conclusion, the telescope has the potential to last 10-15 years from today as new issues may occur. Unfortunately, NASA has not been planning additional servicing missions for the telescope, although NASA engineers are finding new ways to keep the telescope alive on its remaining components. In the future, NASA plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, in less than a year from now. Unlike the Hubble Telescope, this telescope will actually orbit the sun. Furthermore, the James Webb Space Telescope will help uncover even more mysteries, especially about the origin of the universe. Regardless of what the future holds, the Hubble Space Telescope will remain one of the most iconic NASA projects and space telescopes after its death.

Picture credit: “Hubble in orbit” by Dog Company is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

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