NASA released a knockout image from the Hubble Telescope yesterday, saying the camera on the satellite scored a “perfect 10” after engineers got the orbiting observatory back on line following the shutdown of its data-relay system late last month. But the agency has delayed a planned servicing mission on the instrument until spring.
A replacement data-relay unit for the satellite won’t be ready by February, the initial date officials set for the mission after the original October 14 date was pushed back because of the computer glitch, officials said yesterday. "We now have done enough analysis of all the things that need to happen with the flight spare unit to know that we cannot be ready for a February launch," NASA's Astrophysics Division director, Jon Morse, said in a statement. "The February date was an initial estimate, assuming minimal hardware preparations and test durations that are no longer viewed as realistic.”
The testing process is expected to last through March, the agency says; the unit will then be delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in April.
On Monday and Tuesday, the telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) captured a pair of galaxies called Arp 147. The galaxies are 450 million light-years away and seem to have collided, according to The New York Times. NASA published the photo yesterday.
There’s other good news for the space program: Seven astronauts will lift off November 14 for the International Space Station, NASA said yesterday. The Endeavour STS-126 crew will prep the station for bigger teams. The 32,000 pounds of equipment they’ll deliver—additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet and a resistance-exercise machine—will ready the space station for crews of six, up from three. During four spacewalks, the astronauts are set to clean the station's two solar rotary joints, which are part of the photovoltaic arrays that capture energy from the sun. One of the joints has been jammed for a year, the Associated Press notes, decreasing energy production.
Mission specialist Sandra Magnus will replace Greg Chamitoff on the station, who’s been there for more than five months. Magnus is scheduled to stay until February.
(Arp 147 by NASA, ESA, and M. Livio)