The iconic Hubble Space Telescope is still non-functional at this time. However, NASA reminds fans that all science instruments and the spacecraft itself are in perfect working order. The problem is the ’80s era computer responsible for operations of the spacecraft has encountered a serious problem that has prevented it from exiting safe mode. NASA continued to diagnose the problem with the payload computer and announced that it completed another series of tests on June 23 and 24th.
Hubble’s payload computer has been nonfunctional since June 13, and the nonfunctional computer forced the spacecraft to stop gathering science data. There are two payload computers onboard the spacecraft, with one serving as a backup. Both are located on the Science Instrument and Command and Data Handling unit. NASA says the tests it performed on June 23 and 24th included turning on the backup computer the first time since the Hubble has been in space.
Unfortunately for NASA, during testing, engineers used numerous combinations of hardware pieces from both the primary and backup payload computer, and all experienced the same error. Any command that tells Hubble to write into or read from memory isn’t completed successfully. NASA says it’s very unlikely that all of the individual components of the payload computer have a problem, and the team is currently investigating other hardware as a possible cause for the issues.
Engineers are investigating the Command Unit/Science Data Formatter, another module on the Science Instrument and Command and Data Handling unit. NASA’s team is also investigating the power regulator to see if the voltage being supplied to the hardware is outside of parameters. The researchers believe that if the voltage was out of limits, it could cause the problems they are observing. NASA says the team will continue to assess hardware to identify if something else may be causing the issue over the next week. The team could recommend switching to the backup Command Unit/Science Data Formatter to see if that alleviates the issues.