NASA Hubble Telescope Pictures and Videos: Computer Glitch Shuts Down Operations, But Not Before Capturing Carina Nebula

NASA Hubble Telescope Pictures and Videos: Computer Glitch Shuts Down Operations, But Not Before Capturing Carina Nebula
Before NASA shut down its Hubble Space Telescope after a glitch in its payload computer, it captured breathtaking images of this beautiful mountain-like Carina Nebula. Photo : NASA/Getty Images

Before a glitch rendered the Hubble Space Telescope's payload computer out of commission, breathtaking images of the Carina Nebula were taken and shared on the NASA Twitter account.

NASA Hubble Telescope Pictures: Breathtaking Carina Nebula Images

The video shows the images that explore "a small portion of the Carina Nebula, which is one of the largest star forming regions in the galaxy," the caption read.  The nebula, NASA added, is "about 7,500 light years away and mostly made up of hydrogen gas."

Shared a few days before the Hubble was shut down for repairs, the NASA clip garnered over 44,000 views and several reactions as of time of writing.

After sending back those amazing images back to Earth, the glitch stopped the payload computer from working. The problem indeed showed signs of the Hubble's aging, with the malfunctioning unit built in the 1980s.

Read Also: How NASA's 30 Year Old Hubble Space Telescope Survived: Previous Problems the Space Shuttle Discovery Overcame

Hubble Telescope Shutdown: Payload Computer Malfunctioning

In a statement on Wednesday, NASA said the "Hubble operations team is investigating whether a degrading memory module led to the computer halt," Cnet reported.

This payload computer is "a NASA-standard Spacecraft Computer-1 (NSSC-1) system" that was manufactured four decades ago, the US space agency stressed in a press release. It is part of the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling module, which was replaced in 2009 during an astronaut service mission. The computer has various levels of redundancy that can be switched on when necessary.

When the payload computer stopped working on Sunday, the Hubble's main computer stopped receiving a "keep alive" signal, which NASA described as a "standard handshake between payload and main spacecraft computers" to indicate everything is working properly. With the payload computer incapacitated, the main computer had to place all science instruments into "safe mode," NASA added.

After seeking to reboot the payload computer on Monday, NASA said control personnel at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland encountered the same problem. NASA then decided to shift to backup mode Wednesday and will attempt for another reboot of the science instruments, as they will keep the main computer running for about a day to check if all systems are working.

Hubble Telescope Shutdown Among Many Glitches in the Past

Hubble encountered many other glitches in the past, with a software error as its most recent placing the telescope into Safe Mode in March. Despite these, Hubble remained in service to provide those astonishing images of celestial bodies through the years.

To complement Hubble, scientists are eagerly anticipating the upcoming launch of the much delayed James Webb Space Telescope, which is designed to expand the reach of space exploration through imagery--a legacy that Hubble held for years.

Despite this temporary glitch, Hubble is expected to overcome these difficulties and continue its valuable mission for mankind.

Related Story: Hubble Telescope Captures Crab Nebula's Central Star; How It Compares To The Earth's Sun

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