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10/20/2008
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NASA Still Stymied By Hubble Trouble

A range of technical issues continues to plague the finicky space telescope.

The Hubble space telescope, which delivers photos and data to NASA, will not be fully operational before the end of next week, according to the space agency.

Troubleshooters have been unable to get all of the instruments and systems aboard the telescope working properly since the Hubble's Control Unit/Science Data Formatter failed last month. The Control Unit, in the Hubble's Side A Science Instrument Command and Data Handling unit, transmits data from onboard instruments.

It failed on Sept. 27. All science observations except astrometry, the measurement of objects' positions in space, stopped.

On Wednesday, the Hubble performed a data dump and its systems appeared to be on their way back. However, NASA ran into more problems and has been unable to determine whether several failures are related.

NASA booted up the telescope's redundant Side B system and reconfigured the instruments. That allowed the Near Infrared Camera, the Multi Object Spectrometer, and the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 to return to operations. However, a survey camera stopped working when its software detected incorrect voltage levels.

Additional problems occurred a few hours later when a "keep alive" signal from NASA's Standard Spacecraft Computer failed and several instruments went into safe mode.

Scientists will examine their data to try to solve the problems. Until then, the camera will not work.

"The science instruments will remain in safe mode until the NSSC-I issue is resolved," NASA said in a statement issued last week. "All other subsystems on the spacecraft are performing nominally and astrometry observations continue."

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