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Technical problems hobble Hubble longer

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-12-10

New technical problems had arisen that prevented the Hubble Space Telescope from resuming full operations, Nasa said. The space agency was "optimistic" that it could correct the problems within a week.

New technical problems on the Hubble Space Telescope, which is currently undergoing repairs, will further delay the resumption of the telescope's regular duties, according to NASA officials.

The Hubble's operations team encountered anomalies with the telescope's "side A" this week and "is working diligently to understand the cause and options for proceeding," said Jon Morse, director of the Astrophysics division at NASA.

"We remain optimistic at this time for recovering full science operations. But even this best play plan can encounter some unanticipated difficulties," Morse said on Friday.

Art Whipple, director of the Hubble program, told reporters "there are a lot of analysis to be done, a lot of data to go through," but he predicted the program will be back to full capacity "sometime late next week."

The Hubble's scientific instruments were suspended automatically on September 27 because of a major technical fault. The problem forced NASA to postpone a manned repair mission to the telescope from October to February 2009.

The longest period the Hubble has been out of operation was for six weeks in 1999.

Since its launch in 1990 Hubble has been in continuous orbit of the earth, flying through space at an altitude of 575 km (357 miles).

Hubble, which peers further into space than any other telescope, has revolutionized astronomy by changing science's understanding of the origins and evolution of the universe.

Date created : 2008-10-18