Hubble in trouble as telescope ‘suffers failure and goes into safe mode’

Gwen Vasquez
October 9, 2018

With only two working gyroscopes, Hubble will go down to single-gyro mode. With the shuttle now retired, NASA has no present capability to send humans to fix the telescope.

Hubble has six gyroscopes, all of which were replaced by spacewalking astronauts during a servicing mission in May 2009.

Today NASA confirmed reports that Hubble scientists such as deputy mission head Rachel Osten were passing along over the weekend: One of the telescope's three active gyros had failed on Friday, which hampered the telescope's ability to point at astronomical targets for long periods.

"If the outcome indicates that the gyro is not usable, Hubble will resume science operations in an already defined "reduced-gyro" mode that uses only one gyro", Chou wrote.

Gyroscopes are needed to keep Hubble pointed in the right direction during observations.

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.

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NASA said staff at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute were conducting tests and analysis to get the gyro working again.

As a result, Hubble is in so-called safe mode with non-essential systems turned off, putting all science observations on hold. Another gyro failed. First step is try to bring back the last gyro, which had been off, and is being problematic'.

'Not really scary, we knew it was coming. There isn't much difference between 2- and 1, and it buys lots of extra observing time. "Which the Astro community wants desperately", Osten tweeted. The gyro lasted about six months longer than we thought it would (almost pulled the plug on it back in the spring).

Update for 12:50 p.m. PT Oct. 8: We've added NASA's statement on the gyro issue.

The instrument, named after astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble, has been celebrated for its involvement in tracking asteroids, analysing the Kuiper Belt and documenting the nebula of dying stars.

The James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to Hubble, is scheduled to be launched in March 2021.

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