Jersey Skies: NASA Fixed Hubble Space Telescope

Posted on May 13, 2024 by Ana Gonzalez – Community

A view of the Hubble Space Telescope during its deployment by the Space Shuttle Discovery in April 1990. Over the last 34 years, the telescope has orbited Earth almost 200,000 times. Photo courtesy of NASA/IMAX

Just after the Hubble Space Telescope celebrated its 34thth anniversary last month, it received a rotten birthday gift. One of the gyroscopes that points the telescope in the right direction for its observations shut down. The telescope had similar trouble back in the summer of 2021. It was shut down for a month while NASA engineers tracked down the problem to a malfunctioning computer. They were able to switch to a backup and get the telescope running again.

On April 30, NASA announced it restored the Hubble to science operations. The spacecraft is in good health and once again operating using all three of its gyros. All of Hubble’s instruments are online, and the spacecraft has summarized taking science observations.

Even if the gyroscope ultimately fails, Hubble has still has two good ones and, if necessary, it can operate on only one.

You can check out what the Hubble Space Telescope is currently observing by visiting NASA’ Space Telescope Live website.

Astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore will fly on the inaugural flight of the new Starliner spacecraft. Their mission will take them to the International Space Station. Photo courtesy of NASA/Bill Stafford

Starliner Delayed

The maiden flight of NASA’s new Starliner spacecraft has been delayed by a faulty valve. The rocket being used to launch this mission is the very reliable Atlas V. The May 6 launch was scrubbed when a problem was found with a liquid oxygen relief valve on the rocket’s upper stage.

This required the Atlas to be rolled off the launchpad to have the valve replaced. The earliest that the launch could be rescheduled is Friday, May 17. Once liftoff occurs, the capsule will carry two astronauts, Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore, on this test flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

The launch will be broadcast live on NASA TV and social media as well as Boeing’s website.

Kevin D. Conod is the Planetarium Astronomer at the County College of Morris and president of the North Jersey Astronomical Group.

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