None of us are perfect – even the Venerable Hubble Space Telescope: NPR

None of us are perfect - even the Venerable Hubble Space Telescope: NPR

An STS-125 crew member of the Space Telescope takes a still photo of the Atlantis Hubble Space Telescope.

Johnson Space Center / NASA


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Johnson Space Center / NASA

An STS-125 crew member of the Space Telescope takes a still photo of the Atlantis Hubble Space Telescope.

Johnson Space Center / NASA

The Mike Brown Hubble Space Telescope has been in regular use for the past three decades since its launch in 1990. But recently he had an experience Hubble He had never had one before.

BrownThe Caltech astronomer has been given permission to use Hubble to conduct a detailed study of Jupiter’s four largest moons. These moons Galilean moonsBecause Galileo Galilei discovered them in 1610.

They include: Ganymede, which is larger than Mercury and has a Nigu magnetic field; Io, the largest volcanic eruption site in the Solar System; Europe has more liquid water than Earth; Callisto, this is a simple all-crescent moon.

After Hubble assumed Ganymede had been tested, the data beam was downed, processed, and emailed to Brown. He opened it eagerly. There was nothing there.

He immediately thought to himself, “What have I done this time?” That is, as he puts it, “as a scientist you always do something, when you see something that doesn’t work.”

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He checked and re-examined the instructions he had sent to Hubble. They did well.

However, it turns out that Hubble is pointing the finger at the wrong patch in the sky. Brown says two more such errors occurred while trying to observe Jupiter’s moons.

“I don’t know if it’s unusual three times a week, but it feels unusual to me,” says Brown.

After a servicing mission in March 2002, the Space Telescope is launched into space.

NASA


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NASA

After a servicing mission in March 2002, the Space Telescope is launched into space.

NASA

Tom Brown, Has nothing to do with the head of the Hubble Mission Office at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and Mike Brown – who says Hubble is sometimes headed in the wrong direction.

“It happens on a one-percent basis,” he says. “These days, it’s happening like five percent of the time.”

This is an aging telescope. In 2018, when a gyroscope about Hubble failed, researchers Activated One of its on-board spares called Gyroscope 3. This is a breakdown from the trip.

“It tells you it’s moving even without a telescope,” Brown explains.

Telescope operators fix this error, but sometimes it crashes before things can be adjusted.

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A frustrated researcher can submit a request for a da-over, and they will generally finally get their data – assuming they are not trying to see a cosmic event that is brief once in a million years.

No one knows why Gyroscope 3 is such a pain, says Brown, that it could get worse and have to be turned off.

“Then the biggest disadvantage is that instead of the whole sky being available at one time, half the sky will be available at any given time,” he says.

However, Hubble will remain very popular. Hundreds of teams use the telescope every year. They are lucky because most of the proposed observations have to be rejected.

As studied, Hubble is currently used for fields that did not exist even when launched Planets It orbits distant stars.

Image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on February 5, 2015 as the three largest satellite parades of Jupiter in front of a gas giant. Moon Callisto on the left and Io on the right. The shadows from Europe, Callisto and Io, which cannot be seen in the picture, extend from left to right.

NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team


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NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team

“Hubble is truly a unique resource for mankind. Once it’s gone — that’s a lot of people are already scared that day – but I think it’s going to affect people when it’s gone … hard,” Brown says.

Engineers currently estimate that Hubble will last at least five more years.

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NASA has another large space telescope James Webb In writing, but this is not what Hubble experienced Multiple delays And the high cost of excessive runs. It will not launch by the end of next year.

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