The Hubble Space Telescope: safe mode July 7, 2009

Cosmic mystery The Hubble Space Telescope: safe mode July 7, 2009 With the disappearance of the Terrestrial Planet Finder and Planet Hunters, realising the incredible possibilities of these technologies, the idea of Jupiter’s moons…

The Hubble Space Telescope: safe mode July 7, 2009

Cosmic mystery The Hubble Space Telescope: safe mode July 7, 2009 With the disappearance of the Terrestrial Planet Finder and Planet Hunters, realising the incredible possibilities of these technologies, the idea of Jupiter’s moons and the chance of extraterrestrial life, is gone – some hope says it exists. By Steve Myrow / Los Angeles Times

Let me pause for a moment to spell something out for NASA : Such joy (hopefully over in time) could be coming for a very long time to come (hopefully very soon) from humanity (hopefully over quickly as well).

I feel that some of the new scientific discoveries that have been made with the NASA’s Hubble telescope over the last three decades were somewhat stunted (some scientists say this is due to lack of access, and I suspect that is correct in some instances).

It’s true, the communications systems were destroyed in the storm on 25 August 1989.

The day after that, President George H.W. Bush cancelled all new research contracts with NASA.

So, it is with a smirk that I note that on a very holiday weekend in the summer of 2011, NASA had Hubble “safe mode” because a problem with its computer proved “electronic reliability”.

It had been in “safe mode” many times before, so I suspect it isn’t that terribly unusual for a machine that has operated over a few billion man hours.

What’s really interesting about this one is the fact that it was to do with the signal-to-noise ratio (the electronic signal the computer sends to each of the scientific cameras).

The University of Southern California’s Keck Observatory in Hawaii was standing by to view the “return to normal” signal (but then, why would it need to, if that was clear from the very beginning?)

Sadly, I have no idea how many scientific discoveries were made without the Terrestrial Planet Finder. I do know that the Hubble telescope is now “operating at reduced imaging power”.

There is no word yet on whether it’s cameras are functioning – quite likely, I’d hope, the cameras have been recalled and sent to labs for upgrades.

I can only guess at the situation. With NASA ordering major cuts to the Hubble program, perhaps scientists may have ordered me to say this too:

Let’s all hope that the 2009 edition of the Science journal (The Astronomical Data Journal) next year sheds some light on the disappearance of the Terrestrial Planet Finder.

I hope we’ll have a full set of #Reasons to Celebrate posts to mark significant scientific discoveries to arise from this magnitude of tragedy.

In addition, I hope NASA can get a hold of their PR apparatus to announce to the public that the worst is over. That may be required.

Dan Hope is on Twitter at @solar_dance, and on twitter at @cleidocr

The Nasa bulletin, titled “Deleting Hubble Deep Field Improvements Does Not Delay New Analysis,” was updated on Tuesday, 11 June, to reflect the fact that “the Space Telescope Restoration Team determined that the recovery of deep field data had progressed and Hubble was being prepared to analyze its data. As a result, mission operations were resumed.”

Here’s what the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center said about the near-term outlook for Earth’s magnetic field on Tuesday.

This event is expected to result in minor variations in space weather characteristics for the United States.

The conundrums of being able to evaluate Galileo – a spacecraft that was to be had- is almost absurd. It is a Jupiter probe (a stationary satellite that you ride on Jupiter’s back up to Earth) that was supposed to be attached to the Sun, making a close approach each September.

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