FP TrendingMar 12, 2021 15:01:07 IST
One of NASA’s most important assets, the Hubble Space Telescope, had to be temporarily shut down and put in “safe mode” on 8 March. The shuttle that was launched into orbit in 1990 in a joint venture of NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) has been functioning and serving scientists across the world for nearly two decades. But the functions have now been put on hold. NASA announced the news via their official Twitter handle stating Hubble Space Telescope (HST) went into safe mode due to an onboard software error around 4:00 a.m. EST on Sunday. The agency has assured that “All science systems appear normal and Hubble is safe and stable”. The hold will be in place until further notice.
Speaking to Fox News, NASA informed the media their team is working to make sure they return Hubble back to science operations as soon as possible. “The Hubble Space Telescope is in good condition but remains in safe mode as a precaution while the team works to fully understand the error encountered on Sunday and the associated safe mode response,” they said.
At ~4:00 a.m. EST on Sunday, the Hubble Space Telescope went into safe mode due to an onboard software error. All science systems appear normal and Hubble is safe and stable. The team is working plans to safely return it to normal science operations. pic.twitter.com/6JlSSHisLd
— Hubble (@NASAHubble) March 8, 2021
This isn’t the first time that the HST has been put in safe mode. Some technical glitch in 2018 forced the agencies involved to put the telescope in safe mode for a brief period of time. Then agency had then explained what safe mode actually is. It is a setting that helps put the telescope in a “stable configuration that suspends science observations”. It also positions the HST’s solar panels toward the sun, as it functions on solar energy, to get refuelled. It will soon be working as before.
HST has been key in multiple astronomical discoveries since its launch into orbit. It is the first major optical telescope functioning directly from space—offering it an obstructed view of the vast cosmos. It helps us study not only our own solar system but galaxies far, far away.
According to Mashable, “Hubble has made over 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990”.