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Hardware Problem Causes Hubble Telescope’s Camera To Shutdown

NASA is trying to pull together the team to try to diagnose the issue,

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NASA
In this photo provided by NASA, most of the Hubble Space Telescope can be seen as it is suspended in space by the shuttle Discovery's Remote Manipulator System following the deployment of part of its solar panels and antennae, April 25, 1990. VOA

The Hubble Space Telescope’s premier camera has shut down because of a hardware problem.

NASA said the camera stopped working Tuesday. Hubble’s three other science instruments are still working fine, with celestial observations continuing.

This third incarnation of the wide field camera was installed by spacewalking astronauts in 2009. The camera has backup electronics that could be called into action, if necessary, according to NASA.

NASA
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured a formation of galaxies that looks like a smiling face, said the US space agency. Flickr

The camera has captured stunning images of stars, galaxies stretching far back in time and assisted in deep sky surveys. It’s also studied objects in our own solar system, discovering some of the tiny moons around Pluto, as well as the 14th moon around Neptune. It takes pictures in both visible and ultraviolet light, as well as near infrared.

Orbiting 350 miles (560 kilometers) above Earth, Hubble was launched in 1990 and visited by space shuttle astronauts, for repairs and upgrades, five times.

Kailash Chandra Sahu, NASA
The Hubble Telescope hovering in space. Wikimedia

Last fall, Hubble stopped working altogether for three weeks because of a pointing problem. This is the first time the camera has acted up like this, said Cheryl Gundy, a spokeswoman with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which handle science operations for the telescope.

“NASA is trying to pull together the team to try to diagnose the issue,” Gundy said Wednesday.

Also Read: NASA’s Osiris-Rex Sends Pictures Of Asteroid Bennu

“We would like to have Hubble back up and working as quickly as possible, and NASA is making that happen,” even with the partial government shutdown, she added. (VOA)

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NASA Probe Makes New Discoveries on Asteroid Bennu

As a result, Bennu's rotation period is decreasing by about a second every 100 years, the scientists explained

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Asteroid
This Nov. 16, 2018, image provide by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA

NASA’s first asteroid-sampling mission OSIRIS-REx has observed particle plumes erupting from the surface of Bennu, an asteroid the size of the pyramid at Giza.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, which began orbiting Bennu on December 31, first discovered the particle plumes on January 6, followed by additional particle plumes over the last two months.

While some of the particles were slow-moving, the others were found orbiting Bennu, like small satellites.

Bennu’s entire surface was also found to be rough and dense with boulders, contrary to the Earth-based observations, which showed a smooth surface with a few large boulders.

This means that the sample collection part of the mission will have to be adjusted to make sure that OSIRIS-REx can touch down and collect a sample, said NASA while presenting the discoveries at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Conference in Houston.

“The discovery of plumes is one of the biggest surprises of my scientific career,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

NASA
This artist’s rendering made available by NASA in July 2016 shows the mapping of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. VOA

“And the rugged terrain went against all of our predictions. Bennu is already surprising us, and our exciting journey there is just getting started,” Lauretta added.

Further, the team observed a change in the spin rate of Bennu as a result of what is known as the Yarkovsky-O’Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack (YORP) effect.

The uneven heating and cooling of Bennu as it rotates in sunlight is causing the asteroid to increase its rotation speed.

Also Read- Huawei to Launch Foldable 5G Smartphone ‘Mate X’ in India

As a result, Bennu’s rotation period is decreasing by about a second every 100 years, the scientists explained.

OSIRIS-REx launched in 2016 to explore Bennu, the smallest body ever orbited by spacecraft, is expected to return a sample of the asteroid to Earth in 2023.

The findings will allow researchers to learn more about the origins of our solar system, the sources of water and organic molecules on Earth, the resources in near-Earth space, as well as improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. (IANS)