NASA announced today that it has extended the contract for operating the Hubble Space Telescope through 2026, even as it also provided an update on the effort of engineers to bring all the telescope’s science instruments out of safe mode.
[T]he agency has awarded a sole source contract extension to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) in Washington for continued Hubble science operations support at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, which AURA operates for NASA. The award extends Hubble’s science mission through June 30, 2026, and increases the value of the existing contract by about $215 million (for a total of about $2.4 billion).
…Currently, the spacecraft team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is investigating an issue involving missed synchronization messages that caused Hubble to suspend science observations Oct. 25. One of the instruments, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, resumed science observations Nov. 7, and continues to function as expected. All other instruments remain in safe mode.
During the week of Nov. 8, the Hubble team identified near-term changes that could be made to how the instruments monitor and respond to missed synchronization messages, as well as to how the payload computer monitors the instruments. This would allow science operations to continue even if several missed messages occur. The team has also continued analyzing the instrument flight software to verify that all possible solutions would be safe for the instruments.
In the next week, the team will begin to determine the order to recover the remaining instruments. The team expects it will take several weeks to complete the changes for the first instrument.
It appears that it is going to take some time to bring all the instruments back in line, considering that they are fixing the instruments one-by-one, in sequence, and that the first fix is taking weeks. Hopefully as they get each instrument back they will be able to move faster once they know what works.
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