THE Hubble space telescope has been taken offline with all observations halted until further notice.
The Nasa team behind the $1.5billion contraption said that it was placed into “safe mode” at 4pm ET (9pm GMT) on Sunday due to a software bug.
The telescope, which orbits about 547 kilometers (340 miles) above Earth, is not in danger of shutting down permanently, according to the official Hubble Twitter account.
“All science systems appear normal and Hubble is safe and stable,” the account tweeted on Monday.
“The team is working [on] plans to safely return it to normal science operations.”
Launched in 1990, Hubble was the first space telescope ever built and has provided a dazzling array of pictures of distant stars, planets and galaxies.
At ~4:00 a.m. EST on Sunday, the Hubble Space Telescope went into safe mode due to an onboard software error. All science systems appear normal and Hubble is safe and stable. The team is working plans to safely return it to normal science operations. pic.twitter.com/6JlSSHisLd
— Hubble (@NASAHubble) March 8, 2021
Over the decades, it has captured some of the most detailed space photos, helping scientists to shed fresh light on the life cycles of cosmic objects.
The Hubble team did not provide an expected return date for the solar-powered probe.
Safe mode is designed to protect the spacecraft’s systems when something goes wrong, and it's fairly routine to activate it every now and then.
On Twitter, space fans shared messages of support for the dozing technology.
"Get well soon @NASAHubble," one user wrote.
Another said: "Hubble our payers and thoughts are with you always. Let Edwin guide you safely thru your marvelous journey."
Space telescopes snap images from beyond Earth’s atmosphere, allowing them to take more accurate observations than ground-based technology.
And despite being launched more than 30 years ago, it's still going strong, most recently providing a sharp snap of the nearby galaxy NGC 2336.
Terrifying space weapons of the future
Here are three of the scariest…
Rods from God
- A strange but utterly terrifying weapon has been dubbed “rods from the God” and is based on the concept of creating man-made meteorites that can be guided towards the enemy.
- Instead of using rocks rods the size of telephone poles are deployed.
- These would be made out of tungsten — a rare metal that can stand the intense heat generated by entering Earth’s atmosphere.
- One satellite fires the rods towards the Earth’s atmosphere while the other steers them to a target on the ground.
- Reaching speeds of 7000mph they hit the ground with the force of a small nuclear weapon — but crucially creating no radiation fall out.
- As bizarre as it sounds, a US Congressional report recently revealed the military has been pushing ahead with the kinetic space weapons.
Molten metal cannons
- This intriguing idea is being developed by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
- It is called the Magneto Hydrodynamic Explosive Munition or MAHEM.
- This game changing rail-gun can fire a jet of molten metal, hurled through space at several hundred miles per second by the most powerful electromagnets ever built.
- The molten metal can then morph into an aerodynamic slug during flight and pierce through another spacecraft or satellite and a munition explodes inside.
Space force ships
- Already the United States is powering head with its spacecraft, although China is busy developing one of their own.
- The top secret American XS-1 under development by DARPA.
- It can travel ten times the speed of sound and launch missiles.
- Meanwhile an unmanned craft is currently being developed in the China Aerodynamics Research and Development Centre in Mianyang, Sichuan province, which is also known as Base 29.
It’s believed that the Hubble telescope could continue working until 2040.
Its successor – the James Webb Space Telescope – is set for launch in October and will be the most powerful telescope ever built.
Put together by Nasa and aerospace company Northrop Grumman, the $10billion (£7.6billion) machine has been plagued by delays and setbacks.
Once operational, it will find new planets outside of the Solar System and scan their atmospheres for signs of alien life.
Most read in Science
In other news, a Nasa photo has revealed a mysterious hole in Mars that according to scientists may house alien life .
A supersonic 990mph Nasa X-plane as quiet as the “thump of a car door” is nearly ready.
And, Nasa recently revealed a surreal photo of Earth taken from 4billion miles away.
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