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Awareness of Space: Trouble in Hubble

“The universe is always speaking to us. … Sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more.” ― Nancy Thayer

It is strange to have mind-boggling scientific discoveries intertwined with spiritual rejuvenation with the term universe. It has a profound philosophical understanding to it as well. The universe we exist in, and the universe that exists within us. But let us save the “universe within us” for some other day and ponder upon the ethereal universe that beholds literally everything. 

What is the Universe?

This is literally the most conventional question to answer when we talk about celestial and extraterrestrial bodies but it is the most interesting question as well. It opens the channels of mind in the most unconventional way with people literally indulging in philosophical or scientific discourse. 

The Universe with all celestial bodies, space comprising all the matter and energy. It even includes time itself and, of course, it includes you and me in it. The earth we live in, the moon we gaze upon, including the other planets and many other dozens of moons. The asteroids and comets, the planets orbit the Sun which is among hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and those stars have their own planets, known as exoplanets.

There is a lot known and a lot unknown about space and space exploration, however with the commercialisation of space trips maturing towards reality. The earth awaits unwavering connection to the other planets, exoplanets. But so far what we know is through the space organisation regular check into space through the Hubble space telescope. Be it Jam out to the cosmos on World Music Day with the sonification of the Cat’s Eye Nebula represents data from the image in sound to broadening our understanding interpreting data through sound, Hubble has been mediator or human and space, providing connection between two minuscule beings of the universe.

The Mighty Hubble: Understanding The Universe

The Hubble Space Telescope is named in honour of the trailblazing astronomer Edwin Hubble. The large, space-based observatory telescope has revolutionized astronomy since its launch and deployment by the space shuttle Discovery in 1990. Soaring far above rain clouds, light pollution, and atmospheric distortions, Hubble has broadened the horizons of astronomy by providing a crystal-clear view of the universe. The telescope has brought the scientist closer to some of the most distant stars and galaxies yet seen. 

Since its inception, Hubble’s capabilities have developed immensely in its over 30 years of operation. The new, cutting-edge scientific instruments have added new brilliance to the telescope over the course of five astronaut servicing missions. The Hubble Space Telescope makes one orbit around Earth every 95 minutes.

“Hubble has made more than 1.4 million observations over the course of its lifetime. Over 18,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers have been published on its discoveries, and every current astronomy textbook includes contributions from the observatory. The telescope has tracked interstellar objects as they soared through our solar system, watched a comet collide with Jupiter, and discovered moons around Pluto. It has found dusty disks and stellar nurseries throughout the Milky Way that may one day become fully-fledged planetary systems and studied the atmospheres of planets that orbit other stars. Hubble has peered back into our universe’s distant past, to locations more than 13.4 billion light-years from Earth, capturing galaxies merging, probing the supermassive black holes that lurk in their depths, and helping us better understand the history of the expanding universe,” the Nasa website reads. 

“In its over 30 years of operation, Hubble has made observations that have captured humanity’s imaginations and deepened our knowledge of the cosmos. It will continue to do so for years to come,” it further reads. 

But the Hubble is in trouble as the mega telescope is undergoing technical glitches. The problem is a payload computer that stopped working last Sunday, the US space agency said. It insisted the telescope itself and scientific instruments that accompany it are “in good health.”

“The payload computer’s purpose is to control and coordinate the science instruments and monitor them for health and safety purposes,” NASA said.

NASA continues to work to resolve an issue with the payload computer on the Hubble Space Telescope, which halted on June 13.

Launched in 1990, Hubble has contributed greatly to our understanding of the universe over the past 30 years.

— Hubble (@NASAHubble) June 18, 2021

 An attempt at a backup memory module also failed. The payload computer technology dates back to the 1980s, which was replaced during maintenance work in 2009. 

However, the latest series of technology up-gradation paving its way to space as scientist lens to the universe is called the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to be deployed late this year. It is designed to peer deeper into the cosmos than ever before.

While the rest of the world calls the James Webb Space Telescope a replacement to the mighty Hubble, NASA calls it a successor. After all, Webb is the scientific successor to Hubble; its science goals were motivated by results from Hubble. 

Drawn conclusion for Hubble discoveries, now the scientists want to go beyond the parameters of the Hubble wavelength and open the doors to further exploration. The capabilities of Hubble and Webb are not identical, as Webb will primarily look at the Universe in the infrared, while Hubble studies it primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths (though it has some infrared capability). “Webb also has a much bigger mirror than Hubble. This larger light-collecting area means that Webb can peer farther back into time than Hubble is capable of doing. Hubble is in a very close orbit around the earth, while Webb will be 1.5 million km away at the second Lagrange (L2) point.”

Space exploration is highly intriguing with the interest of big conglomerates in the subject now. However, it will be interesting to see how Webb outgrows its predecessor and open the gates of new and jaw-dropping glimpses of the unknown. 

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