NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has returned to full science observations and released new images, following recovery from a computer anomaly that suspended the telescope’s observations for more than a month.
Science observations restarted on July 17. The telescope’s targets included the unusual galaxies shown in the images, NASA said.
“I’m thrilled to see that Hubble has its eye back on the universe, once again capturing the kind of images that have intrigued and inspired us for decades,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, in a statement.
“This is a moment to celebrate the success of a team truly dedicated to the mission. Through their efforts, Hubble will continue its 32nd year of discovery, and we will continue to learn from the observatory’s transformational vision,” he added.
The new snapshots, from a programme led by Julianne Dalcanton of the University of Washington in Seattle, feature a galaxy with unusual extended spiral arms and the first high-resolution glimpse at an intriguing pair of colliding galaxies. Other initial targets for Hubble included globular star clusters and aurorae on the giant planet Jupiter.
Hubble’s payload computer, which controls and coordinates the observatory’s onboard science instruments, halted suddenly on June 13. When the main computer failed to receive a signal from the payload computer, it automatically placed Hubble’s science instruments into safe mode. That meant the telescope would no longer be doing science while mission specialists analysed the situation.
The science instruments were brought to operational status on July 15, and Hubble began taking scientific data once again on July 17. Most observations missed while science operations were suspended will be rescheduled.
Since that servicing mission, Hubble has taken more than 600,000 observations, bringing its lifetime total to more than 1.5 million. Those observations continue to change our understanding of the universe.
Hubble has contributed to some of the most significant discoveries of our cosmos, including the accelerating expansion of the universe, the evolution of galaxies over time, and the first atmospheric studies of planets beyond our solar system. Its mission was to spend at least 15 years probing the farthest and faintest reaches of the cosmos, and it continues to far exceed this goal.