Two years ago, shortly after it had recently completed a $4.4 billion upgrade that gave it unprecedented power and image quality, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope went on a one-way journey into oblivion. For reasons that, to date, are not clear, the telescope shut down as planned on April 24, 2016, after shutting down in a semi-lockdown mode — a backup mode that prevents the craft from going into its usual, many-news-cycle death spiral.
Until today, the hulking 57-foot mirror had apparently gone totally off the rails. Now, six and a half years after shutting down, NASA's Mars-orbiting Hubble 3 spacecraft has recorded images of Hubble&apos go into safe mode again. Scientists believe that the partial failure of the telescope&apos detected from Mars is unlikely to be related to its April shutdown.
According to NASA&aposs announcement, last month saw a high rate of return of a component of the telescope called the SuperCam, and inactivity of the instrument has had “some impact” on the system&apos decision to enter safe mode. A team of engineers and scientists are investigating the issue, and, as noted by MSNBC, are saying that safe mode will have a minimal impact on its ability to observe the universe.
Conducting an exegesis on this pattern of behavior, as we move forward, it became clear that observing SuperCam over the last few months, i.e. over a consistent set of days, as opposed to the sometimes random pattern of the first few days, may have allowed for greater exposure to some very bad electronics condition that the first three days [of operation] did not capture. The result was not, however, a complete loss of the instruments, but rather a sustained period of active free-flowing systems. The ESA's Venus Express spacecraft, of which I am an Associate Member, experienced a different kind of anomaly in 2015: It experienced a loss of two brake beams on a technical inspection. [The engine was] then tested and confirmed as functional and correctable. The difference between these two events is that Venus Express went right back to its normal functioning.
Hubble&apos is supposed to start studying the Andromeda galaxy — our nearest galactic neighbor — soon.