On June 13, the Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode, since then astronomical observations have been stopped. It was assumed that the problem is in the memory unit of the computer system NSSC-1, which is responsible for the operation of the scientific instruments of the telescope. Despite NASA’s attempts to solve the problem, so far the situation has not been brought under control.
There is a nonzero chance that the telescope will no longer be operational. Yet the 30 years during which Hubble has been working for the benefit of humanity is a very long time for space technology. In addition to memory, other systems and components can also be damaged or be on the verge of operability. But Hubble has an heir, so to speak, the James Webb Space Telescope. Let’s remember its history and see at what stage of implementation is the project to launch it into space.
How bad is Hubble
It is still unclear, but it has not been possible to restore its work for almost two weeks. Agency trying to to put into operation a backup computer, which has not worked since 2009, but so far there is no positive news.
At first, the agency tried to convert the telescope to backup memory, not once, but twice. But nothing happened, so it is quite possible that the malfunction is not in the memory, but in something else. In this case, it is a great idea to put into operation a backup computer that controls the scientific instruments of the telescope.
The computer unit itself, both the main and the double, was developed back in the 80s of the XX century. The main one worked for almost 20 years. The second was installed in 2009, during a special mission with the participation of astronauts. But the second computer contains the same components as the main one, they were produced in the 80s. Here more detailed information about these systems. It is now unknown whether the second computer has stood the test of time or not. If not, then either a new mission of space rescuers will have to be launched, which is unlikely, or the operation of the telescope will have to be completed.
But if this time it is possible to restore the system’s operability, then there are no guarantees of reliable operation in the future. So, at the beginning of spring, NASA was already engaged in recovering the system after an error in the onboard software. Then the problem was fixed quickly enough.
In any case, another space telescope is needed that will be able to continue the work of the Hubble, but with the help of updated scientific instruments.
James Webb Telescope
The project began in 1996, at first it was called the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST). Everything is logical here, since this is exactly the next generation of space telescopes. The system was supposed to deepen the research carried out by Hubble, since its capabilities are wider (we will talk about this a little below).
A few years later, the project was renamed in honor of one of the first leaders of NASA. It is now the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST for short.
Features of “Webb”
The new telescope is infrared. Working range – radiation from 0.6 to 28.5 microns. To fulfill the observational tasks assigned to the system, the telescope needs a mirror of impressive dimensions. But to make a solid mirror with a diameter of 6.5 meters, and even with a mass that allows you to send it into space,
impossible not so easy. Therefore, it was decided to create a composite mirror of relatively small mass.