back to article Hubble fired up and ready for action

NASA yesterday re-activated the Hubble space telescope's back-up computer system, following a few problems coaxing the venerable spare kit into life. The decision to press the on button means Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 observations should resume tomorrow, followed by Advanced Camera for Surveys Solar Blind Channel …


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  1. Chris Thomas

    NASA Programmers on the Windows 7 team!

    I've got an idea, put the NASA programmers responsible for the hubble on the Windows 7 team, at least then if it has a bug, they will analyse and tell you EXACTLY with absolute certainty what the problem is and what the fix is. None of this maybe yes maybe no, oh shi- just bsod'd again

    it'll probably run in a smaller memory footprint and on a radiation hardened i386 as well, I know its a joke and I hope everyone else does too, but is anyone NOT in awe of these guys, they can debug and fix a broken computer in orbit, with limited availability and limited attempts and these guys always seem to get it right.

    Who is microsoft employing down here????

  2. TeeCee Gold badge


    What this actually says is: "Fuck knows. We're going to switch it back on, but this time we'll have our fingers crossed."

    Mines the one with the Layman's guide to Hubble maintenance in the pocket.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    But wait!

    Woken after 18 years of slumber, the 486 runs its onboard diagnostics, tests its connections to the satellite's systems, and takes initial supervisory control of the telescope. Reloading its operating software from a multiply redundant solid state device that has survived nearly a generation in an almost pristine state, Hubble resumes it's primary mission.

    It swings a graceful arc across the inky infinite, past the ghostly silhouette of a moon in shadow, and drifts further on to take in the Earthrise that has captivated space explorers for nearly 50 years. It slows, then stops - ponderous, like an ocean liner, yet graceful and precise like a clockwork ballet dancer.

    Circuits, unsparked since they were last tested in a secret underground laboratory by silent, nameless, scientists, come alive and wake the football sized nuclear reactor hidden within a tangle of camouflaging wires and dummy electronics.

    A reaction begins - controlled only insofar as it was begun with full knowledge of what it would become - and in the blinking of an eye a tsunami of pure energy rushes through precision optics to become a focused beam of terrifying intensity. The satellite shudders, folds in upon itself, then disappears in a cloud of its component molecules - but not before it has done its terrible work. 500 miles away, upon the spectacularly beautiful and serene earthscape, a patch of ruddy brown becomes an unbearably intense white before settling to an ashen black. Its shroud - a billowing smoke becoming, at its edges, a dark and greasy haze - is drawn lazily into one of the many storms that amble over the East European Plain this time of year.

    Moscow today and, before the dawning of the second millennium, the unholy Soviet empire will kneel or perish. The Gipper and the Iron Lady wish it so.

  4. Simon Williams

    Obviously a new definition of the term 'redundant'

    Why is this secondary control system termed a 'redundant Side B' system, when to all intends and purposes, it's a 'backup Side B' system. It's certainly not redundant, as without it the Hubble itself would be. Respect for the Side B system.

  5. JBR

    hats off

    I for one commend the pants of steel approach to this. The number of times I have rendered a remote network device inaccessible through an inadvertant ifconfig eth0 down or shutdown rather than restart... And I find walking to the comms cupboard enough of a PITA

    Don't do it after a couple of pints, don't do it on a Friday afternoon

  6. Léon

    posted from where?

    > Posted in Space, 24th October 2008 06:43 GMT

    Wow, that el Reg!

  7. Chris Harden

    RE: But wait!

    ....And one of the original developers currently now responsible for acitving 'side B' slaps his hand on his head and goes "ohhhh yeah....THATS what that bit of code in the startup routine does...."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That was awesome. Please do more.

  9. Nick L

    "self clearing short circuit"

    Yeah I had one of those last week on a more modern motherboard. My desk now has brand new scorch marks ...

  10. Anonymous Coward

    i'm sad

    That so little is spent on this and getting things fixed up for major exploration and the govtards can piss away billions upon billions on crooked businesses and crooked wars.

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