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How NASA Saved the Hubble Space Telescope With Teamwork

Team StoryWeavers|August 24, 2022, 12:23 IST|

Have you heard of the Hubble Space Telescope? It is one of the most successful space observatory telescopes, made by NASA. 

It has been successfully observing distant galaxies and other spectacles in space for 31 years. But suddenly, in June, the Hubble telescope began to malfunction and had to be put on sleep mode. It went through the worst glitches of the decade. As a result, the telescope went blind!

That sounds serious and concerning. But don’t worry, the telescope is back in action now. 

However, it’s quite interesting to understand how many teams of NASA came together to fix one of the most important space telescopes that was inoperative for a brief while.

What went wrong?

On June 13, 2021, the Hubble Telescope began to show glitches in its functioning. Its payload computer came to a halt. This payload computer takes care of control and coordination of all the science instruments in space. 

The telescope went blind because an important computer couldnt receive signals

Cameras, spectrographs and inferometers in the telescope were all controlled by this payload computer. So, when it came to a halt, the main computer could not receive signals from there. Therefore, the science instruments on Hubble were put in safe mode.

How did NASA repair the Hubble Space Telescope?

For a problem of this magnitude, alumni from NASA, who built the actual Hubble telescope worked with the current team to set it right!

The old and the new team together discovered that the problem was with the Power Control Unit. And on July 15, over a month after the glitch, the efforts of the teams paid off. They fixed the Hubble and from July 17 , the Hubble telescope was made operational once again.

These retired professionals from NASA pitched in with their experience and helped build the telescope. Being the original team to have worked on the telescope they knew the ins and outs of the Science Instrument and Command & Data Handling unit, where the payload computer resides. 

Isn’t it great that the team effort paid off?

Interesting facts about the Hubble Telescope:

The Hubble Telescope was launched on April 24,1990. It was named after the celebrated astronomer Edwin Hubble. 

The Hubble telescope was instrumental in helping us find the age of the universe – 13.8 billion years.

Data from Hubble has been used to publish over 18,000 scientific papers and has taken over 1.5 million observations of the universe

Some of the most important discoveries have been made by Hubble

The Hubble Telescope weighs roughly the same as two male elephants – around 11,000 kilograms – and is as big as a school bus.


Is this the first glitch?

This is actually the second time that the most successful space telescope went into safe mode.The previous instance was in 2008. Back then, it was caused by a component of the Science Instrument and Command & Data Handling unit failing.

The Hubble team had to rely on backup equipment. They made a similar transition to return Hubble to regular operations. Later, during the telescope’s servicing mission the following year, they replaced the complete equipment and significantly prolonged its life. Speaking of telescopes, want to know how to make a telescope?

Do you know any inspirational stories of teamwork? Share with us in the comments below:


Enjoyed reading this? Check out more from The Learning Tree Blog:


The Moon’s Wobble That NASA Has Warned Us Against


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About the Author

Aparna is a mom, singer and dreamer. At BYJU'S, she writes stories about learning for children. She believes in the power of music, especially ghazal, the magic of the universe and happy learners. When not writing or singing, you will find her intensely engaged in conversations about life and the power of words.

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