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Hubble Space Telescope is in trouble after gyroscope failure
09 October 2018, 06:30 | Dale Webster
Image The Hubble Space Telescope is currently operating in safe mode
While the telescope is not expected to be at risk of being permanently out of order, two of the four gyroscopes used to direct the telescope towards its targets in the sky have failed.
It's been used to date the galaxy and study black holes but now NASA'sHubble Space Telescope is taking a break from activities due to a mechanical fault. Right now HST is in safe mode while we figure out what to do.
NASA said on October 8, 2018, that the HubbleSpace Telescope has been in "safe" mode - that is, not in an operational mode - since Friday, October 5, shortly after 6 p.m. EDT. The space agency still hopes that it can recover the third enhanced gyroscope and resume normal science operations.
NASA's venerable Hubble Space Telescope is in safe mode after the failure of one of its gyros and a problem with another, but the agency said this specific problem did not put the orbiting observatory in jeopardy.
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". Staff at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance. The current problem, though, is a reminder that, with the retirement of the shuttle, NASA now lacks a means to fix or upgrade Hubble.
Till then science operations with Hubble have been suspended. There isn't much difference between 2- and 1, and it buys lots of extra observing time.
Osten also noted that the team has had a "very stressful weekend" and that the Hubble is now "in safe mode while we figure out what to do". "Which the Astro community wants desperately". The gyro lasted about six months longer than we thought it would (almost pulled the plug on it back in the spring). "We'll work through the issues and be back", she wrote.
In 2020 NASA will launch Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, a more powerful instrument that will offer astronomers unprecedented views of the cosmos. That way, Hubble has a longer total lifespan.
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