The Legendary Hubble Space Telescope Enters “Safe Mode” for Second Time This Year As NASA Attempts to Work Out Ongoing Issues


The past two years have not been easy on some of the most venerable telescopes with Hubble entering “safe mode” for the second time this year and the Arecibo Observatory’s collapse last year.

Hubble Space Telescope above earth's atmosphere
Photo by NASA

That last one was caught on CCTV and you can catch up on that article at this link.

Back to Hubble, issues are nothing new for the telescope that was launched all the way back in 1990 but it seems like they’re becoming more common.

NASA just reported to the press that the telescope was entering safe mode again after unspecified issues started cropping up.

From a blog post on the issue:

“The Hubble team is focusing its efforts to isolate the problem on hardware that commands the instruments and is part of the Science Instrument Command and Data Handling Unit. Specifically, the team is analyzing the circuitry of the Control Unit, which generates synchronization messages and passes them onto the instruments.

While analyzing the Control Unit, the team is working to identify potential workarounds for the issue. These include possible changes to instrument flight software that could check for these lost messages and compensate for them without putting the instruments into safe mode. These workarounds would first be verified using ground simulators to ensure they work as planned.”

A loss of data synchronization on October 23rd prompted the application of safe mode and NASA promised to slowly root out the cause of the problem while also restoring operation to areas of the telescope.

In an update on November 8, NASA reiterated its commitment to fixing the issues but also noted that they still haven’t identified a specific cause.

“Over the past week, the mission team has continued investigating the root cause of the synchronization issues and has seen no additional problems. The team will continue looking into possible short-term solutions this week and develop estimates for implementation. Once this occurs, the team will discuss returning the other instruments to operational status and resuming their science observations.”

How much longer do you think the Hubble Space Telescope has before NASA needs to call it a day? What are some of your favorite Hubble Space Telescope captures and discoveries? Let us know your thoughts on NASA’s venerable telescope in the comments below.

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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