So, when we last left our poor afflicted orbiting telescope, it had lost side A of its CU/SDF (Control Unit/Science Data Formatter), which is responsible for translating the data taken by an instrument into bits that can be readily transferred down to the ground. Luckily, one of the things that NASA does really, really well is redundancy, so there is a side B that is ready and waiting to be turned on. Before doing so, however, the Hubble folks need to make sure that they understand what happened to side A, and that they know how to safely turn on side B without fragging anything else. The latest news is that Goddard completed an independent review last week, and they think they understand what happened, and how to safely turn on side B. The staff at Goddard has been practicing with a spare SIC&DH (Science Instrument Control and Data Handling System, which contains the CU/SDF) on the recplica HST that’s been in cold storage for the past 18 years or so (see what I mean about redundancy?). A final Transitional Readiness Review was held, and they’re recommended starting the switch to side B. If this is approved, the switch should take place in the middle of next week.
The cool thing is that Hubble has been keeping itself scientifically busy doing astrometry (high accuracy positional measurements) with the Fine Guidance Sensor. Past papers that have come out using FGS data are some of the coolest and most underpublicized Hubble results, so I’m jazzed to see that they’re cleaning up while everyone else is idle!