Hubble Telescope in 'Safe Mode' After Gyro Failure

Katie Ramirez
October 9, 2018

The current fault had been anticipated because the gyroscope had been "exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year", according to NASA.

All six of Hubble's gyroscopes were replaced by space station astronauts during a servicing mission in 2009, but only two of those are now functioning properly. In 2009. six new gyros were installed - three are used for maximum efficiency and three for backup. "NASA is working to resume science operations", NASA said in an official statement said. The Hubble Space Telescope has been sidelined by a pointing system failure. Upon powering on the third enhanced gyro that had been held in reserve, analysis of spacecraft telemetry indicated that it was not performing at the level required for operations.

Hubble is now down to two working gyroscopes and needs at least three for optimal operations but it can continue to provide observations with just one functioning gyroscope.

The plan "has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain", Osten said, adding "there isn't much difference between 2- and 1, and it buys lots of extra observing time".

Though three gyroscopes are ideal, the telescope can be used on only one.

The Hubble space telescope, which has been in orbit since 1990, is now out of action because of a gyroscope failure, the USA space agency said Monday.

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Dr. Rachel Osten, the deputy head of the Hubble mission, said the first step "is to try to bring back the last gyro, which had been off, and is being problematic". That's the error engineers are working to fix now, with the instrument in safe mode to allow them to run tests.

"Don't worry, Hubble has many great years of science ahead", says Kenneth Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, which operates Hubble. "Which the Astro community wants desperately", Osten tweeted.

The agency, though, said it didn't expect Hubble to cease operations any time soon, as its instruments and other key components are working normally.

The Hubble telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, via the space shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

'We'll work through the issues and be back'.

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