NASA returns Hubble Space Telescope back to full science operations

NASA has taken the Hubble Space Telescope back online after a recent glitch. (Image credit: NASA)

Hubble is back in business.

The Hubble Space Telescope is once again fully operational after a glitch took its science instruments offline. Yesterday (Dec. 6), NASA's Hubble team recovered the observatory's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, the last of the telescope's instruments to be taken online after the recent issues, the agency announced today (Dec. 7). 

"The team will continue work on developing and testing changes to instrument software that would allow them to conduct science operations even if they encounter several lost synchronization messages in the future," NASA wrote in the announcement.

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In late October, Hubble experienced a glitch with the synchronization of its internal communications. This took all four of the scope's science instruments offline and temporarily made Hubble operational. The first of the instruments to come back online, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), was operational again by Nov. 7, while the four remaining instruments stayed in a "safe mode" for protection.

The Hubble team will continue work to prevent such issues in the future, and the first such change will be a software update scheduled to be installed in mid-December on Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph instrument. Hubble's other science instruments will also receive software updates in the coming months, NASA said in the statement. 

Hubble will soon be joined in space by another powerful telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. Webb observes in infrared so it can make unique observations that complement those of Hubble. 

"With the launch of the Webb Telescope planned for later this month, NASA expects the two observatories will work together well into this decade, expanding our knowledge of the cosmos even further," NASA added in the announcement.

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Chelsea Gohd
Senior Writer

Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.