Word has come down that the Hubble Space Telescope has a serious problem. Apparently the SICDHS (The Science Instrument Command and Data Handling System) – which commands the detectors on the telescope – had a failure of the Science Data Formatter. This means that the telescope cannot send data back to earth. HST has been put into a “sleep mode” as NASA engineers attempt to turn on the backup for the system, which has never needed to be used in the 18+ years the telescope has been in orbit.
This means that the planned Hubble Servicing Mission, which was scheduled to launch on October 14th, is going to be postponed until sometime early next year, in order for a new SICDHS unit to be carried up and installed.
Dr. Phil Plait has more details on his Bad Astronomy blog.