Just last month, Hubble Space Telescope's main instruments were idled by a computer failure, but not to worry, thanks to NASA engineers, who successfully transferred the work of the failed science data downlink computer to a backup system, Hubble is up and running just a couple of days after the orbiting observatory was brought back online.

This image of two interacting galaxies, called Arp 147, was captured by Hubble's prime working camera, the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). Arp 147 appears in the Arp Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, compiled by Halton Arp in the 1960s. This picture was assembled from WFPC2 images taken with three separate filters. The colors blue, green, and red represent the blue, visible-light, and infrared filters respectively.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio (STScI).

The image shows the aftermath of what astronomers believe to be a collision of two galaxies. The galaxy on the left appears relatively undisturbed -- a ring of starlight surrounding a bright central cluster of stars. The second galaxy, on the right, appears as a ring of bright, young bluish stars. Scientists believe that the ring was formed when the galaxy on the left passed through it, causing a ripple of higher density matter that moved out from the center like ripples on a pond. This ripple is now triggering an eye-dazzling ring of star formation.

The galaxy pair was photographed on 27-28 October 2008, but Arp 147 lies in the constellation of Cetus, more than 400 million light-years away from Earth, which means that the light now reaching Hubble shows it as it was 400 million years ago, before the age of dinosaurs. What it looks like now--who knows? Only another 400 million years will tell.

Despite Hubble's recent resurrection, on October 30, 2008, NASA managers announced that they will not meet their February 2009 launch date for the fifth and final shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. The decision comes after engineers completed assessments of the work required to prepare a second data handling unit for flight. This second unit will replace the one that failed on Hubble in late September, causing the agency to postpone the servicing mission, which had been targeted for earlier this month.

"We now have done enough analysis of all the things that need to happen with the flight spare unit to know that we cannot be ready for a February launch," said NASA's Astrophysics Division Director Jon Morse at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The February date was an initial estimate, assuming minimal hardware preparations and test durations that are no longer viewed as realistic. We've communicated our assessment to the Space Shuttle Program so it can adjust near-term plans. We will work closely with the Shuttle Program to develop details for a new launch opportunity."

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.