Hubble space telescope shut down after another computer glitch

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Its computers shut down, disrupting American efforts to obtain more information about another planet

The United States space agency has shut down its Hubble Space Telescope for another day after glitches, the second such action in eight days and the third in a year.

The failure occurred on Tuesday when its computers shut down, disrupting US efforts to obtain more information about an alien planet orbiting a red dwarf star.

The 31st edition of the American Astronomical Society meeting was scheduled to start on Wednesday, featuring presentations by university astronomers working on the 50-year-old telescope.

However, it was postponed while engineers waited for a digital image of the red dwarf star Alpha Centauri B that would be delivered by an orbiting spacecraft.

The instrument operated normally early Wednesday, but when operators examined the whole operation, it had installed and tested a transmitter capable of transmitting an image from the telescope to ground stations at ground stations in California and Arizona, a NASA spokesman, Dan Smith, said.

Smith said the spacecraft, named Parker Solar Probe, had been stuck in the slipstream of a nearby communications satellite for several days.

One of the issues that have plagued the telescope over the last year has been the temporary loss of three of its power pods. These are eight 8-inch power engines that the observatory uses to drive it forward and change its orientation to take better pictures.

The reboot comes about two years after a similar system failure led to a failure of the entire telescope and a year before the addition of new parts was scheduled to be completed.

Cedric Llewellyn, a lead telescope technician and fellow at the University of Maryland and consultant to the telescope, estimated the repair would take three to four weeks and cost about $1m.

For now, Hubble will return to low light sensitivity, Llewellyn said, but it remained to be seen if it could be launched in June 2019 as planned.

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