The Hubble Space Telescope is offline while NASA tries turning it off and on again


Hubble offlineNASA’s Hubble telescope is getting a little old, but it’s still running. Or, rather, it was. The ageing space hardware, the Associated Press reports, is currently not doing any work thanks to computer issues.

Which, you know, aren’t nearly as simple as correcting the problem here on the ground. The system broke down on 13 June and NASA have been attempting to resurrect it ever since.

Hubble trouble

The problem is with a computer memory module. And not what you’re picturing in your head — Hubble’s computer hardware was constructed in the 1980s, which is a long time for a computer to stay in one piece. Its last update was just over the weekend — NASA attempted to restart the onboard systems to see if that fixed the issues, and they’re currently attempting to switch to a backup memory module.

The telescope, and all of its associated scientific instruments, are currently sitting in Safe Mode, the dreaded ‘it’s broken and I don’t know why’ status you might be familiar with if you’ve spent much time around Windows operating systems. We suspect NASA’s got a little more robust (and specific) programming. The outfit knows what needs doing, now they’re busy doing it.

The agency, speaking to, fully expects to bring the gigantic space eye back online but, at present, “…there is no definitive timeline yet as to when this will be completed, tested and brought back to operational status.” Hubble’s replacement, the James Webb space telescope, was supposed to finally launch this year but that… may not happen. The project suffered yet another delay earlier this month.


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Brett writes for Stuff's digital platform and edits Stuff's print magazine, in between reading science fiction and every Batman comic he can get his hands on.

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