The Hubble Space Telescope has been facing computer issues for three weeks after scientific instruments were sent into safe-mode configuration because of a glitch.
The telescope is currently in orbit 540 km above the Earth, but nearly completely blind as all scientific data gathering has been halted because of the glitch.
The team at NASA has been trying to figure out how to fix the 43.5 feet telescope currently in space. A set of procedures to fix the issues has been tested out and will be tried on the telescope sometime next week.
"Nasa successfully completed a test of procedures that would be used to switch to backup hardware on Hubble in response to the payload computer problem. This switch could occur next week after further preparations and reviews," the Hubble Space Telescope team said.
This is not the first time that the massive telescope has faced issues. It underwent physical repairs in 2009 because of the Imaging Spectrograph which suffered a power failure in 2004, and the electrical short in 2007 that affected its Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).
Currently, the glitch only seems to be in the software and NASA has said that the underlying hardware of the telescope remains stable. "The telescope itself and its science instruments remain in good health and are currently in a safe configuration," Nasa had said in a statement.
The on-board computer responsible for controlling and co-ordination the scientific equipment on the telescope shut all instruments down after an unknown fault halted the ‘keep-alive’ procedure.
The telescope remains one of the greatest feats of human engineering. Built-in 1990 by the crew of the space shuttle Discovery, the space telescope has taken in 1.5 million observations since its launch that have resulted in over 18,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers being published.
"Hubble has peered back into our universe’s distant past, to locations more than 13.4 billion light-years from Earth, capturing galaxies merging, probing the supermassive black holes that lurk in their depths, and helping us better understand the history of the expanding universe," Nasa said.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is expected to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope sometime in the future. JWST will be built in collaboration with NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. The new telescope is expected to launch this year in October but may be delayed to November or December.