NASA recently announced that the Hubble Space Telescope has returned to safe mode due to a software error. The telescope’s scientific systems were not affected in any way and operated normally.
However, all scientific operations were suspended while the ground mission team was solving the telescope problem; But the agency has not released any details on the cause of the disorder or what steps it has taken to address it.
There is probably nothing to fear, but whenever anomalies occur, spacecraft like Hubble enter safe mode. Safe mode means that the telescope stops collecting data and locating targets and only makes sure that its solar panel is still working. This makes troubleshooting less tedious and easier, especially if the software problem can overshadow several parts.
Hubble was recently put in safe mode in 2018 due to defects in the gyroscope (a device used to maintain proper orientation in orbit). The telescope went online again within three weeks without any noticeable problems. But these events remind us once again that Hubble is no longer young.
30 years of service of this telescope is more than people expect and the telescope is in its last steps for hibernation.
How much time does Hubble have and what happens when it disappears?
Pierre Hubble hardware was last serviced directly in 2009 with the help of space shuttle astronauts, and engineers at the time estimated that this would continue until about 2016.
After several years of flying with all the renovations, the engineers re-evaluated the survival and reliability of the instrument and began to fix the problem. The latest estimates show that by 2026, or a whole decade, we can achieve the same quality that is being done today. , To do scientific activity.
Hubble has a brilliant track record in astronomical research: the study of planets and moons in the solar system, distant stars, galaxies, supernovae, nebulae, and other astrophysical phenomena, and the study of the origin and expansion of the universe.
When the telescope was first launched in 1990, we were still five years away from discovering the first extrasolar star to orbit a sun-like star; Nevertheless, Hubble performed exceptionally well.
Hubble is not useful for finding extrasolar planets, but it is useful for secondary observations that characterize planets and their atmospheres. When the James Webb Space Telescope is launched later this year, the two observatories could work together to make a promising step toward global Earth-like identification.
The James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, is often cited as the successor to Hubble, which is not an accurate description of the subject. Hubble can see the world through visible and ultraviolet waves, while James Webb’s observations focus on infrared waves. This helps us to study objects from the early universe and to describe chemistry in other worlds.
This vital feature is like an insightful eye for the study of phenomena of which we have little understanding. In 2017, the Hubble Space Telescope used its spectroscopic capability to observe for the first time the source of gravitational waves due to a collision of two neutron stars. The event took place.
Hubble consists of four main scientific tools that if one or two works are stopped, there are still many conditions for doing scientific work. The telescope is made up of different parts, so single software or hardware failure does not necessarily prevent individual tools from working.
As mentioned, there are no plans for a new service mission, and if there is a catastrophic failure that completely hubbles offline, it is difficult for NASA to carry out a mission to repair the observatory, which is more than three decades old.
So what will Hubble eventually replace when he wants to retire?
Brown says other countries plan to do the same mission as Hubble in the visible and ultraviolet spectrums. The Indian Astrosat telescope currently makes ultraviolet observations from space with a much lower aperture.
China is launching a space telescope called the Xuntian by 2024, which is said to have an observable space 300 times larger than Hubble.
The real successor to Hubble may be the LUVOIR (Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Surveyor) telescope, which is capable of observing different wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light and will be launched earlier than 2039 if approved. Hubble is expected to stay on until it is really replaced. But most astronomers are preparing for a major gap in knowledge after Hubble stops working.
“Hubble is really a breakthrough in optical and ultraviolet astronomy, and a lot of astronomy, especially when it comes to our understanding of chemistry and temperature in space, provides information that you can really get from Get it, it depends; “We are afraid that the space community will feel empty when Hubble stops.”