One Hubble Glitch Fixed, One Remains
Backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere, the space shuttle Atlantis' cargo bay, robotic arm, tail and orbital maneuvering system (OMS) pods are caught in this snapshot by an STS-125 astronaut on May 20, 2009 during a Hubble Space Telescope overhaul.
Credit: NASA.

A glitch with one of the key instruments ? an imaging spectrograph ? aboard the Hubble Space Telescope continues to plague the 19-year-old spacecraft after attempts last week to fix the problem, NASA said today.

Mission managers regrouped today to decide what their next steps should be to fix the anomaly with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) that caused the Hubble team to suspend the instrument's operations July 6.

STIS is a super-sensitive spectrograph that can detect faint light from distant developing galaxies.

The team made an attempt to fully recover the instrument on July 10, but was unsuccessful. The team collected diagnostic information on the problem and met today to review the status of STIS.

"We're making sure we understand it fully," Ed Ruitberg, a Hubble Program Manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told SPACE.com.

The team will meet again later in the week to determine the next course of action. Mission controllers are unsure how long it will take to get STIS back into science-ready mode.

"We're not going to turn it fully operational until we know [more about the problem]," Ruitberg said, though he's optimistic the instrument will fully recover.

While the glitch has delayed the preparation of STIS for science operations, "it doesn't affect the other instruments," Ruitberg said.

The STIS glitch came a few weeks after a separate glitch that froze the observatory's new data handling unit, installed by shuttle astronauts in May during the fifth and final servicing mission of the telescope. That glitch was resolved in mid-June.?

On a happier note, a third glitch, with one of Hubble's cameras, was resolved last week.

?Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) suspended operations on June 24 after the instrument's flight software detected a problem in its new electronics box. Mission controllers were able to revive the camera on July 6.

"We basically just had to re-initialize the instrument and it came back up and running," Ruitberg said.

ACS has finished its Servicing Mission Observatory Verification, or SMOV program, and is ready to do science, though there's still a chance that the glitch could occur again. The team is working on mitigation strategies in case that happens, Ruitberg said.

ACS has been on Hubble since its launch in 1990 and was revived by the shuttle astronauts during their 13-day service call.

"Everything else is going very well," he added.

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  • SPACE.com Show: Hubble's Final Shuttle Service Call
  • Images ? Hubble's Latest Views of the Universe: Part 1, Part 2