Hubble memory errors persist despite NASA booting long-idle backup payload computer

Different hardware, same problem


NASA has fired up the Hubble Space Telescope's backup payload computer to find that the spacecraft still has problems.

The primary payload computer halted on 13 June, ceasing collection of science data and tripping the veteran observatory into Safe Mode. Troubleshooting has continued ever since.

Last week NASA engineers decided to fire up the backup payload computer, which has not booted since its installation by the last Space Shuttle servicing mission, STS-125, in 2009.

Despite trying multiple combinations of hardware from both the primary and backup computers, engineers found the same error – commands to write to or read from memory failed.

Noting that "it is highly unlikely that all individual hardware elements have a problem," the team has spread the fault-finding net a little wider.

Having looked at the Central Processing Module (CPM), the interface bridge between the CPM and other components, a communications bus, and the memory modules, the team is now looking at the Command Unit/Science Data Formatter (CU/SDF) as well as the power regulator.

The former is responsible for formatting and sending commands and data around the spacecraft as well formatting science data for transmission to the ground while the latter is supposed to ensure a steady constant voltage supply. "If the voltage is out of limits," said NASA, "it could cause the problems observed."

The CU/SDF module and the power regulator both have backups should either (or both) turn out to be at fault. The team will also continue remotely prodding the Science Instrument and Command and Data Handling (SI C&DH) unit (where the payload computers and CU/SDF modules are located) in the hope of tracking down other causes for the outage.

It appears that scientists have at least another week without the services of the space telescope as hardware assessments continue. On the plus side, "the telescope itself and its science instruments remain in good health and are currently in a safe configuration," even if the elderly hardware behind the scenes does not appear quite so happy. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Meet Wizard Spider, the multimillion-dollar gang behind Conti, Ryuk malware
    Russia-linked crime-as-a-service crew is rich, professional – and investing in R&D

    Analysis Wizard Spider, the Russia-linked crew behind high-profile malware Conti, Ryuk and Trickbot, has grown over the past five years into a multimillion-dollar organization that has built a corporate-like operating model, a year-long study has found.

    In a technical report this week, the folks at Prodaft, which has been tracking the cybercrime gang since 2021, outlined its own findings on Wizard Spider, supplemented by info that leaked about the Conti operation in February after the crooks publicly sided with Russia during the illegal invasion of Ukraine.

    What Prodaft found was a gang sitting on assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars funneled from multiple sophisticated malware variants. Wizard Spider, we're told, runs as a business with a complex network of subgroups and teams that target specific types of software, and has associations with other well-known miscreants, including those behind REvil and Qbot (also known as Qakbot or Pinkslipbot).

    Continue reading
  • Supreme Court urged to halt 'unconstitutional' Texas content-no-moderation law
    Everyone's entitled to a viewpoint but what's your viewpoint on what exactly is and isn't a viewpoint?

    A coalition of advocacy groups on Tuesday asked the US Supreme Court to block Texas' social media law HB 20 after the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week lifted a preliminary injunction that had kept it from taking effect.

    The Lone Star State law, which forbids large social media platforms from moderating content that's "lawful-but-awful," as advocacy group the Center for Democracy and Technology puts it, was approved last September by Governor Greg Abbott (R). It was immediately challenged in court and the judge hearing the case imposed a preliminary injunction, preventing the legislation from being enforced, on the basis that the trade groups opposing it – NetChoice and CCIA – were likely to prevail.

    But that injunction was lifted on appeal. That case continues to be litigated, but thanks to the Fifth Circuit, HB 20 can be enforced even as its constitutionality remains in dispute, hence the coalition's application [PDF] this month to the Supreme Court.

    Continue reading
  • How these crooks backdoor online shops and siphon victims' credit card info
    FBI and co blow lid off latest PHP tampering scam

    The FBI and its friends have warned businesses of crooks scraping people's credit-card details from tampered payment pages on compromised websites.

    It's an age-old problem: someone breaks into your online store and alters the code so that as your customers enter their info, copies of their data is siphoned to fraudsters to exploit. The Feds this week have detailed one such effort that reared its head lately.

    As early as September 2020, we're told, miscreants compromised at least one American company's vulnerable website from three IP addresses: 80[.]249.207.19, 80[.]82.64.211 and 80[.]249.206.197. The intruders modified the web script TempOrders.php in an attempt to inject malicious code into the checkout.php page.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022