Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble

Are you sitting down? Comfortable? Take a deep breath. In. Out. If you have any sort of heart trouble, look away now. Do not read any further.

The Emperor, with all of his certificates of demonstrated intelligence, who claims to have saved Hubble from the clutches of his predecessor, who approved a risky shuttle mission putting lives on the line for something more expensive than a replacement telescope ever could be, with all of his claims of manifest destiny to implement his personal ESAS findings, who has found himself surrounded by supporting minions chanting, "yes, yes, yes" for the past three years...that same Emperor will finally be illuminated by the light of day tomorrow, to be standing naked outside the E Street Theater, covering up a decision that will surely lay bare his faulty sense of judgement.

Hubble is broke. But the hardware is not really believed to be broken. Really? That's not what we're being told, is it? How can this be?

If Hubble is not broke, why then would the repair mission be postponed? Why are extraordinary efforts being undertaken to ready a replacement computer by next February? Why will untold millions of dollars be spent to "save the telescope?"

Seriously, you better be sitting down for this.

None of this effort may be necessary. If what we are hearing is true, the only thing sitting between now and an operational telescope is John Grunsfeld's EVA glove. And a reset button on the computer.

The Hubble telescope may just be the victim of an amateur error. New software code was uploaded to the computer on Hubble before the SOS was received on the ground this past weekend. That software tells the telescope how to format data for transmission to the ground. The update was planned to accommodate the new instrumentation planned for installation by the STS-125 crew.

But the software is apparently flawed. It caused the computer to go off-line. The only way to get the computer to accept corrected software is to reset it, much like we do when our PCs display the ignominious blue screen of death. Of course, if you wanted to cover up your mistake, you would claim a new computer is needed to fix the problem. Of course, that always works.

It is the Emperor who allowed this to happen. And it was his team's hasty response to postpone the mission when it is just one astronaut's finger away from rescue. That response now puts the telescope at much higher risk of a real failure by adding months to this month's scheduled launch to get vital hardware on board to extend Hubble's life.

The same team's judgement is being utilized to fly this mission.

The same team is giving us ARES/ORION.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Hubble mission is delayed until Feb-April 2009.

Anonymous said...

You're going to have to do better than that. Specifics, please. Otherwise, this is just sour grapes.

kT said...

This? That?

Better than what?

What are 'sour grapes'?

Since you demonstrably can't communicate effectively, then you certainly can't expect anyone to take your comments seriously.

Do you see how I constructed that sentence? Do you see the specific points I made within it?

Communicate effectively.

Comment seriously.

Get it?

Anonymous said...

KT, you need to calm down. First, the comment (anonymous, 10/3, 2:23) was directed at the blog author (you?), and was meant to convey the sense that the original post did not have any facts that could be corroborated in any way, although the post was represented as truth, instead of speculation. Thus the basis for the admonition in the first sentence. The "that" reference is clear, taken in context of the post.

Second, a request was extended to author for specific references in order to back up the dramatic claims made in the post, in very clear, concise language.

Lastly, a point was made that if there are no references forthcoming, the posting represents nothing more than the negative attitude of the poster, thus the "sour grapes".

I'm so sorry to have to explain all of this to you. Post commentary is usually most effective when it's brief and on point, but since you insist in challenging the intelligence of my earlier comment, I'm forced to respond in this fashion.

Next time, please consider the context of the commentary before you blast someone with an ill-advised venting.

By the way, we're all still waiting for some facts to support these claims. They've been categorically denied by the Hubble program manager. Got a link to a schematic showing a reset switch accessible by an astronaut? How about a record of the code in question, or documentation of the transmittal in question?

kT said...

KT, you need to calm down.

I'm pretty calm, considering the shit I have to put up with from NASA and the United States government. I'm not the one posting long rants on an anonymous blog that nobody will read.

First, the comment (anonymous, 10/3, 2:23) was directed at the blog author (you?),

I didn't say the comment was pointed in my direction. I was only pointing out the illucidity of your language. If you want people to respond rationally, state your case, whatever that may be, in a clear in concise manner. Carry on. But don't expect anyone, certainly not the blog owner, to conform to your perception on how the world outta be. I embrace diversity. Even when that diversity is illucidity.

Maybe God just makes the universe up to test the faithful. Maybe Rocket Man just makes stuff up to see if you, the faithful, are even paying attention. It's his blog.

According to this administration, US Americans may lie with total impunity, and indeed, immunity.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not the one posting long rants on an anonymous blog that nobody will read."

Earth to kT: Lots of people read this blog.

Why not use your real name, Thomas Lee Elefritz? And why the dead link to your profile?

kT said...

Earth to kT: Lots of people read this blog.

And lots of people can easily see that you appear unable to falsify Rocketman's claims about the Hubble with your own research based counter claims. Until you do that, any claim you make is just 'pot kettle black'.

By the way, we're all still waiting for some facts to support these claims.

No, YOU are waiting for EVIDENCE.

Your ability to project is amazing. That's always the way it is with people like you, project of your beliefs upon others, along with an inability to follow through with your own research. Everything you have said about Rocketman may be trivially applied to yourself. I'll leave details of that application to the astute readers of this blog.

I won't even get into your time honored technique of changing the subject when your logic fails you.

Rocketman has made some statements you take issue with. Since these are YOUR issues, it is incumbent upon YOURSELF to explain those issues, since this isn't your blog. Demanding evidence isn't good enough in the REAL WORLD, you know, the REALITY BASED WORLD that most of us reside in? You need to provide evidence, if only to live up to your own professed standards.

So go ahead, take another run at YOUR problem, the universe is very kind and accommodating that way.

And why the dead link to your profile?

I have no idea, it's blogger.com software, not mine. I was the Wordpress AJAX guy, remember? Coming from an anonymous poster, your comments about me are pretty hysterical. Thanks for the laughs.

To quote the astronomer Carl Sagan : $billions and $trillions ...

Anonymous said...

Specifics? Sour Grapes? Can't you read? He said that a software upload failed, not the box on Hubble. The real question is why isn't the press, who always let's NASA and the Emperor off the hook, looking into this?

Anonymous said...

"Hubble is broke. But the hardware is not really believed to be broken. Really? That's not what we're being told, is it?"

The hardware firmware is showing errors just like when a cpu or disc hard drive packs up. Seems like you have just made up another story out of incorrect information.

kT said...

The hardware firmware

That's another word for software. You knew that, right? Are you saying an EEPROM or Flash memory module failed? Rocket Man seems to think it was a bad code upload. Think - bad BIOS flash, and now you have to get out that old EEPROM programmer and do it up right. No hot flashing allowed.

I just gave you a long lecture about clarity of thought and expression, and basic research.

Did you learn anything at all from that lecture? Now is your chance to demonstrate what you learned from that lesson. Yes, this is a quiz.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EEPROM

Anonymous said...

kT has been banned from posting on USENET via Google for TOS violations. Just go to this thread

http://groups.google.com/group/sci.space.policy/browse_thread/thread/c092cc44e7294549#

and click on "view profile" next to kT. "
This account has been banned because it violated the Google Groups Terms Of Use"

Scroll down and you will see that kT loves to use profanity to try and win a discussion. Gather 'round, folks, and see a truly great mind at work.

kT said...

kT has been banned from posting

Yawn. And you have been warned by RocketMan numerous times about commenting in just such a manner.

So which anonymous are you, the illucid anonymous who is having trouble researching the Hubble problem? Or are you the anonymous that just chastised you for not researching the Hubble problem competently?

Which is it, anonymous number 1 or anonymous number 2? And behind door number three, we have my latest - Research Proposal. Take it or leave it, I care not. Perhaps you want to call the principles directly and poison the project for everybody.

So tell us, oh' anonymous one, have you ever written a line of code and burned an EEPROM in your life? Ever designed, prototyped, debugged and built a piece of hardware and carried it all the way through to production? Ever? In your life?

How about project, ever ran one through from start to finish?

How about programs, ever completed an entire program from start to finish? How about research proposals, white papers, position papers, peer reviewed scholarly research papers, any experience at all?

Nobody uses profanity anymore. Any astronaut or fighter jockey can tell you that. Never heard any of that from my supervisor, the job foreman, the construction manager, nor even the project manager or program director.

All of those people are as clean as the driven snow, just like you. So tell us, do you have anything to contribute at all? The Hubble, remember? Hardware or software?

Super secret password : hardware is software, and software is hardware.

Anonymous said...

http://groups.google.com/group/sci.space.policy/
browse_thread/thread/c092cc44e7294549#

Connect the two lines and paste into your browser. Amazing prose from our own kT! If only the rest of us could create such written beauty.

kT said...

You don't understand what the usenet is all about, do you?

Nevertheless, this is RocketMan's blog here Charlie, and we were discussing a hardware and/or software failure on the Hubble. Rocketman was gracious enough to provide us with some insight, which you took reasonable issue with, even though you don't seem to understand electronics much. But unfortunately, you are unable to qualify your issues with any evidence, and you seem uncertain of the role of hardware and software in modern equipment functionality.

Hundreds of experienced engineers are at your service to help you here, but all you can do is post more idiotic references to idiotic conversations on the usenet, which is the commonly agreed upon venue for idiotic conversations. Why are you bringing it here? Frustrated that the Bush administration didn't turn out as rosy as you anticipated eight or so years ago? Sour grapes?

Anonymous said...

kT says:"You don't understand what the usenet is all about, do you?"

From your perspective, it allows you to swear at people instead of discuss issues, insult their religious beliefs in a profane manner, post incoherent rants wherein everyone who disagrees with you is "fascist" and do so quasi-anonymously from afar with little chance that you will ever have to face people personally. Coward.

And then you go bipolar and post here as if you were the model of civility.

kT said...

This is a PRIVATE BLOG, Charlie, and Rocket Man has already read me the riot act. I respect Rocketman, just as I disrespect Rand and his ilk.

The usenet, on the other hand, has an express purpose, which is to let people express themselves any way they choose, in the manner clearly outlined in the Constitution of the United States of America. Right now I'm having a pretty severe problem with people who disrespect the US constitution and the veracity of science (for instance, a certain vice presidential candidate and a certain Ohio representative who invoked 'GOD' on the House floor, in clear violation of the doctrine of separation of church and state.

I express myself. On the usenet. And on blogs. Appropriately.

If you have a problem with that, it's your problem, not mine. You seem to have a problem with Rocketman's analysis of the Hubble trouble as well. But you can't follow through. When I have a problem, I follow it through. You can ask anyone who has ever worked with me on anything of significance. This is precisely what we are discussing, following through on problems. And all you can do is go psycho on everybody.

Express yourself, man, what specifically is your problem with Rocketman and his Hubble analysis.

Details. We're here to help you.

Anonymous said...

kt says "You can ask anyone who has ever worked with me on anything of significance."

OK, so I ask around for people who have worked with someone named "kt"? Or should I ask about "Thomas Lee Elifritz"?

I am sure you attract lots of collaborators with your last post at this URL

http://tinyurl.com/holtq

kT said...

Well, Mr. Brin did get married on my sand bar, but that's beside the point. Google commonly bans non GMail users who use proxy fake email addresses to post. You seem obsessed with Google's public liabilities.

Again, the Hubble trouble.

What is your problem?

Anonymous said...

kt why don't you just shut up? Your incoherent posts contain nothing of substance. All you do is sniff Rocketman's fumes.

Rocketman is the clearly in the know and provides great insight into NASA. He is posting things here (no doubt) at great risk to his employment at NASA.

kT said...

kt why don't you just shut up?

I'm pretty sure the person who should shut up here is you, but I would never ask or demand that you do so, at least not on this blog.

As for me shutting up? Dream on.

Again, I ask you, what is your particular problem with Rocketman's hubble trouble problem? I've provided you with plenty of hints and references, and I've outlined the proper way to research those kinds of integrated hardware and software problems. Give it a try!

kT said...

If anyone is interested, it took me all of twenty seconds to come up with this British newspaper report :

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/30/

and this live interview with Ed Weiler on NPR Science Friday by Ira Flatow :

http://www.npr.org/templates/player/hubble

Anonymous said...

Hey "kt/Thomas Lee Elifritz": You answered/contributed nothing. Why not just shut up and let Rocketman tell the story from inside NASA as he does so well.

You are in Madison, Wisconsin and are not exactly close to what is really going on.

kT said...

Why not just shut up

And let you idiotic fascists win?

I don't think so. Rocketman can do or say anything he wants here, it's his blog. He can edit cut and paste to his hearts desire. And that's so weird, because reality lets me post whatever I want as well, subject only to the whims of Rocketman. That must burn your fascist ass.

As long as the content box lets me post content, I'll post content. If you have a problem with my content, speak up, this is a democracy until the dictator speaks. Tough, huh?

So go ahead, use your freedom of speech to protest against your freedom of speech.

It's the American way!

Hahahah hahahahahahaha hahahahaha

Now, do you have anything to contribute? A link? An idea?

I found those two links far more useful than anything you posted on the Hubble trouble subject here.

Anonymous said...

well done, kt

"idiotic" 1 use
"fascist" 2 use
"dictator" 1 use

You are well on your way toward the eloquent prose you used in http://tinyurl.com/holtq

Well done!

kT said...

That pretty much sums it up.

I'm not speaking about Rocketman, of course, but 'der Fuhrer'. Did you get your money out of the markets yet?

Still waiting for you to comment on the Hubble trouble. I think I'll be waiting for a long long time, you don't seem to be able to focus on your problems anymore, perhaps the number and magnitude of your problems are just overwhelming now.

I can understand your inability to concentrate, and your obsession with trivial things of insignificance, its a common psychological response to disasters of your own making.

Denial and avoidance. It reminds me a lot of the Ares I phenomenon. This has been a remarkable learning experience for me, watching you melt down like this. I'm always turn my problems into learning experiences no matter how severe they are, it's something I learned a long time ago solving problems.

You should try solving your problems sometime, you might like it, you might even learn something from it, hell, you might even solve some of your problems along the way. But I know you've got more important things to do than solving your problems. Good luck, you'll need it. Prayer is so ineffective.

kT said...

Like toxic debt, Rocketman doesn't want to touch this toxic thread.

But here is another article with appeared :

http://www.computerworld.com/action/article

Since the hail NASA crowd seems ineffectual at just about everything, here is more on it :

NASA scientists announced last week that a data formatter and control unit had "totally failed" on Sept. 27. The Science Data Formatter is designed to take information from five onboard instruments, format it into packets, put a header on it and send it to Earth at speeds of up to 1Mbit/sec.

"Michael Moore, a program executive for the Hubble Space Telescope, said that the problematic computer has been online since the telescope was put into orbit by the space shuttle Discovery in 1990. The computer was designed by IBM in the 1970s and built by the former Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp. in the 1980s."

Ah. I was thinking it might be an ASIC or something. Who knows what this beast looks like. My experience in the pre Adaptec SCSI world, was that many of the black box state machines had common undefinable lockup errors. It was so bad we had to physically put in hard reset switches and then trip them in software. Perhaps this is what Rocketman is talking about. If the code was corrupted, it may be impossible to trip the soft reset, or that tripping the soft reset merely resets the corrupted code. If the corrupted code prevents further uploads, then it's game over. The mars rovers had some problems like that, they just barely squeaked by because they had intimate knowledge of the system.

Any thoughts, Obsessed With Usenet?

Anonymous said...

Now you guys are getting close. The firmware got clobbered by a bad upload. So when will the Space Telescope Institute fess up?

kT said...

So when will the Space Telescope Institute fess up?

About the same time that the Bush administration and the people who voted for them and still support them, and the NASA administrator and the people who still work for him but don't speak up, are willing to admit that they actually made a mistake. In other words - NEVER.

I won't be waiting.

kT said...

I was wondering, does anyone know what this beast actually is?

It wouldn't be a rad hardened Harris RTX2000 by chance, would it?

Anonymous said...

Looks like "kt" aka Thomas Lee Elifritz runs this board now.

kT said...

No, just this thread. Rocketman hasn't given me his password, you're good. So you don't know any of the specifics of the hardware discussed.

Ok ... thanks!

kT said...

If anyone is interested the unit is designated A211 on the palette.

Control Unit/Science Data Formatter.

The heart of the SI C&DH unit is the CU/SDF. It formats and sends all commands and data to designated destinations such as the DMU of the SSM, the NASA computer, and the science instruments. The unit has a microprocessor for control and formatting functions.

The CU/SDF receives ground commands, data requests, science and engineering data, and system signals. Two examples of system signals are "time tags," clock signals that synchronize the entire spacecraft, and "processor interface tables," or communications codes. The CU/SDF transmits commands and requests after formatting them so that the specific destination unit can read. For example, ground commands and SSM commands are transmitted with different formats. Ground commands use 27-bit words, and SSM commands use 16-bit words. The formatter translates each command signal into a common format. The CU/SDF also reformats and sends engineering and science data. Onboard analysis of the data is an NSSC-I function.

Still nothing on the actual CPU.

kT said...

The Beast.

kT said...

Here is an excellent discussion :

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/16/

Stephanie Barr said...

There are a lot of good things about the Hubble Space Telescope, but I understand your position on this very well. *Sigh* I should. I've watched the dance done to keep the thing working twice before and understand it's fragility and limitations.

I don't know who you are, but I understand your frustration and even share, to an extent, your disgust at many of the directions politics have pushed us into.