It was looking grim there for a while, but Hubble is back in business after a computer glitch kept the space telescope offline for over a month.
The storied observatory represents all that’s good about our ventures into space; to date, the telescope has taken more than 1.5 million observations of objects near and far, and its data has been cited in more than 18,000 scientific publications, according to NASA.
But recently it looked as though Hubble’s historic reign may be over, when a computer glitch shut down the show on June 13.
With hindsight, we can now say that reports of Hubble’s death were greatly exaggerated; NASA’s recovery team fixed the problem with backup hardware, allowing science operations to recommence on July 17 at 1:19 p.m.
It’s super good news, but needless to say, I was hardly the only person worried.“I’ll confess to having had a few nervous moments during Hubble’s shutdown, but I also had faith in NASA’s amazing engineers and technicians,” Julianne Dalcanton, an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a statement.
“Everyone is incredibly grateful, and we’re excited to get back to science!”
Dalcanton is an early beneficiary of Hubble’s resuscitation, as her team is using the space-based telescope to gather images of peculiar galaxies, including an interacting pair and a large spiral galaxy with an extra appendage.
Scientists thought that ARP-MADORE2115-273 was a ring galaxy caused by a collision, but the new image suggests that “the ongoing interaction between the galaxies is far more complex, leaving behind a rich network of stars and dusty gas,” as NASA explains.Like the Milky Way, ARP-MADORE0002-503 is a spiral galaxy.
After three decades of dutiful service, Hubble continues to act as our watchful eye on the cosmos, and there’s something very comforting about that.