Hubble update: Looking good so far

By Phil Plait | October 16, 2008 10:48 am

Yesterday, engineers at NASA started the procedure to turn on Hubble’s spare Science Instrument Control and Data Handling system, the part that went kerflooie a couple of weeks ago. So far, things look good:

During the night of Oct. 15, Space Telescope Operations Control Center engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center turned on and checked out Side ‘B’ of Hubble’s Science Instrument Control and Data Handling (SIC&DH) system.

Subsequently, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) instruments were retrieved from safe mode to establish that each has a working interface to the Side B SIC&DH. The instruments were then commanded back into safe mode, and will remain in that state until the SI C&DH begins issuing commands to them later today.

Around noon today commands to recover Hubble’s science instruments from their safe modes will begin and internal exposures and calibrations of the telescope’s science instruments will occur before midnight Thursday.

In fact, they’re so confident things are going well that they have exposures scheduled for Friday!

Scientists at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore should complete their review of the internal exposures by noon on Friday, October 17. […] A full schedule of science observations with the WFPC2 camera, ACS’ Solar Blind Channel camera, and the Fine Guidance Sensors will resume early Friday morning.


P.S. Note to NASA: thanks for getting this news up in a timely fashion. That’s more like it!


Comments (16)

  1. Helioprogenus

    Maybe I was a bit too rash there about NASA’s slow response Phil. Partly it was a tongue-in-cheek response, but it’s good to see news updated so quickly. Maybe they finally listened to you a little bit. I thought I heard some rusty bureaucratic gears turn.

  2. Is Mercury out of retrograde yet? 😛 I hope NASA was diligent enough to wait for that phenomenon to be over to reduce any possible SNAFUs. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

    Keep us updated. I’m sure you will do a much better job with all your inside connections. 😉

  3. It’s running on an Intel 80486. That gives me the giggles.

  4. Dave

    This is very good news! In fact, the best news I’ve seen all day!

  5. Ibid-

    As long as you’re not running Windows, an 80486 has an awful lot of computing power…

  6. Oh, yeah. A Motorola 68000 would also have been acceptable.

    They did send this thing up many years ago and there’s not a Computer Hut nearby. Plus older chips are less vulnerable to solar interference than the newer, finer, stuff.

  7. Mang

    I can’t help thinking of the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper” when they find the 200 year old VW Beatle in the cave — and it starts first time :)

  8. Chris A.

    People are often amazed at how primitive the computers are that run space hardware, compared to the units on our desk tops. There’s a simple reason why the latest chips aren’t the best idea in a space environment: The more components you cram into a given cubic mm of space, the more vulnerable the chip is to cosmic rays. Lower density packing (as found in older chips) means that only a few functional parts of the chip (whether they be memory locations, logic gates, etc.) can be destroyed by a bad hit, increasing the chances that you might still be able to function with a few lost bits of memory, etc. When they’re close together, one good cosmic ray can render the hardware permanently kaput.

  9. Mang Says: “I can’t help thinking of the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper” when they find the 200 year old VW Beatle in the cave — and it starts first time.”


    – Jack

  10. Mang

    @Jack – you mean it wasn’t Ringo. (My bad).

  11. Daniel

    now THAT is the NASA i love! GREAT WORK!!!!!!!! 😀

  12. Mike

    I’m sure once they have used the Kerflooieometer Mk II (the USB model) things will be fine.


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