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Guru
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Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/01/2006 10:28 AM

The main camera on the Hubble Space Telescope has shut down unexpectedly for the second time this year, the operators of the orbiting observatory announced Friday, September 29th.

The orbiting Hubble telescope, launched in 1990 by the space shuttle, has revolutionized the study of astronomy with some of the most striking images ever seen in space.

However, a servicing mission by the space shuttle is needed to install two new instruments as well as fresh batteries and gyroscopes to keep the telescope working until 2011 or 2012.

NASA, which has not decided whether to send astronauts to repair the Hubble, is planning to replace it with a new, improved version, the James Webb Space Telescope. It's scheduled for launch in 2011.

What do you think - should NASA risk a difficult repair mission?

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#1

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/01/2006 4:02 PM

The wide field planetary camera 2, the near field infrared camera and the spectrometer are still functioning. That may be all they need. I think that if the telescope will shut down completely they will do something about it.

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The Engineer
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#2

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/02/2006 12:53 AM

I didn't know about the James Webb Space Telescope. If they plan to put that in orbit in 2011, then I don't think they should bother trying a costly and dangerous fix. Adaptive Optic Telescopes on Earth can partially fill the void for a few years and it will give NASA more motivation to get that James Webb Telescope up there.

I can't wait till 2012 when we find out that the universe is actually 15 billion years old, um I mean 16.5 billion years old, er, I meant 18 billion years old, um I think we're gonna need a bigger space telescope.

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/02/2006 9:07 AM

Roger et al,

You remind me of the story when during geology class the professor said that the end of the world is forecasted to be in 15 billion years from now..

one student at last row jumps and shouts, "In how many years?"

"15 billion years" says the professor.

"Oh, good lord, I thought you said 15 millions."

Wnagito

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The Engineer
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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/02/2006 9:26 AM

Good Point, none of us will be around, but of course understanding something as abstract as the age of the universe can lead to practical innovations that at first seem unrelated. After all, it was observing the motions of the stars and planets that lead to much of early mathematics and physics. Well, that and building pyramids.

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Guru

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#9
In reply to #4

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/03/2006 7:56 AM

Reply to Wangito

That reminds me of the one about a museum guide showing visitors a dinosaur skeleton and saying "This is 200,000,007 years old" and someone saying "Wow, it's amazing you know it that accurately, how is it done?" and the guide says "When I started this job they told me it was 200,000,000 years old and I've been here for 7 years.

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Guru
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#7
In reply to #2

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/02/2006 9:44 AM

Hi Roger,

I think the reason you did not know about the James Webb Space Telescope is that it was originally designated the New Generation Space Telescope (NGST). It was renamed after NASA's second administrator, James E. Webb, in 2002.

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Guru
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#3

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/02/2006 3:21 AM

Dear Jorrie and Dear Bransom,

If Hubble Space Telescope can be repaired or brought back to earth then it shoul be tried. It is something more valuable history. Until now we used to keep the bricks and mummies as history but time has come when we can keep these great development as history evidence. We somethime think that whatever we have done has no value when we move to next. Then why we look back at things in history. Documents alone do not make history and we need the real thing as long as it can survive.

Some parts in Hubble Space Telescope were not placed with greater life and can be identified and can be replaced. That era was when instruments were developed for a life of 20+ years. These days we make things for life of 3-years at best and blow them as fire cracker at the end.

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Guru
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#6
In reply to #3

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/02/2006 9:31 AM

I agree that it would be good to preserve things like the Hubble Space Telescope but the cost of retrieving or repairing it is prohibitive. If it were retrieved it would probably mean that a replacement was no longer affordable. In my opinion the knowledge lost because we preserved a piece of obsolescent hardware would be criminal. Some people are preserving technology and putting it in museums, the very first computer that I got my grubby little mitts on is now in a museum.

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Guru
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#8

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

10/02/2006 10:17 AM

I was reading its piezo driven lens assembly. It was something of great dream for Physicists to ever achieve.

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#10

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

08/04/2007 4:04 PM

Late update on this, but the gyroscopes has always been the main problem, they should have been tossed and used another source/vendor, reason one needs not to go into, poop happens. Then there are the solar panels, which have their own design problems. Then there's the up/down link, whatever new equipment that gets install suffers from the very slow link, which can't be updated without full change out of main tray. Its a good platform to still work from, just an older one like using an older puter in DOS, nice new hardware but the same bottleneck motherboard. The new James Webb is a better outlook. A little research, if ya can find this info, will should some truth in this.

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Guru
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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

08/05/2007 12:37 AM

Do we have some good reference on the hardware that went in it? I did some hardware using 8085 RadHard uC and only 8K ROM 48K RAM. I used programs in ROM that were transported in SRAM and reconfigured and used and permitted external programs also within its allowed real time performance limit. This system had multiple task capabilities and was developed in 1978. I think, I have allowed 32 tasks at best to be active and some of the tasks were given highest priority. My hardware was designed for 400-days continuous data collection from nuclear experiments, uses software disk for data storage, has two level links to nuclear ADCs and many serial links for linking with other hardware. What I want to say is those simple hardware done in older time were much better planned than the one we do now with large resources. We became lazy, inefficient, error prone and proudly egoistic.

I expect the Hubble design to be good even for slow hardware with limited resources. When you have little resources, you conserve everything and it really works much better.

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

08/05/2007 5:09 PM

*Do we have some good reference on the hardware that went in it?* Yes I do, but ya can't find it on-line, some of it is Proprietary info. As with all photos taken, which belong to the user for that time frame allocated, which the public doesn't see till they release them. One buys time on the HST and that time and all info belongs to them. Bottom line, the gyros are the weakest link, without them; a given number to function properly, the HST goes into sleep mode.

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

08/05/2007 10:50 PM

If I was to design Hubble Telescope, then

The sleep mode will be only to save power while device is not involved in essential function. Assuming that power itself is not enough will put the device in oscillatory mode of ON/OFF type. I will first look into power system partial failure. Perhaps charge generation or charge storage is not functioning properly.

The Gyro, not giving proper information should not inhibit the system as that is only a sensor.

In intelligent systems, priorities may be as follows

System consciousness cycle must remain ON and active all the time as its failure means system is dead for ever. If consciousness cycles is breaking then that is the first cause of greatest un-recoverable failure. Such failure may allow transmission of some information and then breaking into dead period and having no control over the machine. It is like a person in COMMA waking up once a while, giving an idea of life.

Assuming that consciousness cycle is OK and Hubble is not dead or in COMMA, then

If, there is enough power then switch the system

Handle highest priority tasks - this may be, sensing health of the system and then minor communication to earth

Next step will be to look if any functional task/s is/are pending, if yes, then complete as many task/s in one consciousness cycle that are possible.

If any task fails, then record it and truncate it and move on to next task

If all tasks are over, then go power saving cycle

After power is saved, go for next consciousness cycle

Now within this consciousness cycle data transmission and data receive are possible and it may take many such cycles for it. Loading of external programs is also permitted within this cycle. Loaded programs should also move to Hard memory even though may be used in SRAM.

I always keep a back of program, and perhaps 3 parallel memory system is much better to have risk assessment.

------------alternatively

If this system is designed by an engineer then the system must work like this

Rhythm clock or sync cycle - data output within this cycle

Data or command input -async or rhythm of the transmission cycle. Later one is very likely.

You then build all types of data security and cross checks and error correction and risk assessment etc. While risk assessment for receiving is not a problem, for transmission and using commands may run into serious problems.

If information is disclosed to me then I may be able to figure out the problem. I think, those designed the system may not be available for maintenance may be the problem. It is not easy to figure out how others thought and designed the system unless everything is documented and was as per rules.

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Guru
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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

08/06/2007 6:06 AM
  • The Gyro, not giving proper information should not inhibit the system as that is only a sensor.

Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't the gyroscopes critical to the operation of any spacecraft and even more so with the HST. Without operational gyroscopes you have no way of pointing the telescope and keeping it pointed at a given target. A telescope that can't be pointed at and stay fixed on a target is completely useless so unless the gyroscopes are working there is no point in anything else working.

Something else to consider, if the guidance system reacted to faulty information coming from the gyroscopes the results could be catastrophic so I can understand why you would not want anything using the information from a faulty gyroscope and powering it of would certainly stop anything from responding in a catastrophic way.

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Guru
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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

08/06/2007 6:52 AM

If Gyro is drifting then that can be easily corrected using drift parameter. It is something more than that I believe. I think there is something that was not built for space technology and slowly has been affected. This can be mechanical positioning hardware or something else. There is little in the Gyro to go wrong and those devices are highly robust. If I remember correctly then this Hubble mirror has many focusing elements and if they get into problem in time due to their miniature design not being robust or their power drivers if were integrated circuits started failing then also there will be serious problem of mirror going out of focus. In my last 30 years of electronics, I am very much design cautious to avoid short life components and it is not easy to find one that will not live all along.

If you try to analyse if the life cycle of any critical part may be affected then you will know easily the location of the fault. Critical life span is often known to the manufacturers. Unless clearly things are known like what is happening, it is difficult to analyze things and only speculative ideas are possible. Is it worth discussing this way? Does any one know the complete story?

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Is the Hubble era coming to a close?

08/06/2007 7:49 AM

ya way off base with the simple fix of gyro's output and there's no such thing as drift parameters ya can punch in to point at a Star and hope to hold it with temp changes to the solar panels and body of craft, solar winds, drag of earth. And there is a lot that can happen to gyros, the highly robust thought is nice for the short drive around earth but not pointing for yrs in space environment. Most Sat's use magnetic torque rods to align positions, they work but do wobble. The focusing elements are now incorporated into the user's equipment and they work very nicely, which are called corrective optics. * Critical life span is often known to the manufacturers*, not so for Deep Space Condition, that and the fact RAD Hard parts cost big $$$ and not all components are RAD hard enough. I have analyze return black boxes from HST that work better then launch date time, and have re-used for the next mission, parts change within a yr and most Sat Life span is very short per design conditions and beyond that is the real pay off. No matter what one thinks they could design within safe guards, one good burst of the Sun and ya in shutdown mode, hopefully for a short time.

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