The Hubble Space Telescope entered “safe mode” due to a software error at around 4 a.m. ET on Sunday, March 7. But don’t worry, the telescope isn’t likely to shut down for good.
“All scientific systems seem normal and Hubble is safe and stable”, the Hubble team wrote on Twitter. “The team is working [on] plans to return it safely to normal science operations. ”
Safe Mode is a protective feature that temporarily stops scientific observations and points Hubble’s solar panels towards the sun to ensure it has enough power, according to a NASA article published in 2018, the last time the telescope entered Safe Mode. The satellite remains in safe mode until ground control can resolve the issue.
Related: 26 cosmic photos of the ultra-deep field of the Hubble Space Telescope
In 2018, Hubble went into safe mode after one of its gyroscopes – instruments that help orient the satellite – failed. About three weeks later, the team was able to remotely repair a malfunctioning emergency gyroscope, and Hubble resumed normal operations. It is not yet clear what software error caused Hubble’s current hibernation period, and the duration of the recovery is also unclear.
Since its launch in 1990, the iconic Hubble Space Telescope has looked at our universe, studying interstellar objects, planets, stars, supermassive black holes and space phenomena such as the fusion of galaxies, according to NASA. And over 30 years later – double its expected lifespan – it’s still going strong.
The Hubble Telescope has made more than 1.4 million observations and fueled the publication of more than 18,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
“During its more than 30 years of operation, Hubble has made observations that have captured the imagination of mankind and deepened our knowledge of the cosmos,” according to NASA. “He will continue to do so for years to come.”
NASA has yet to release an official statement on Sunday’s “Safe Mode” incident.
Originally posted on Live Science.