NASA staff working 24/7 to deal with Hubble space telescope issues

Image    The Whirlpool Galaxy is one of the most famous images Hubble captured

Hubble, which has been observing the heavens since 1990, went into a protective safe mode after another one of its orientation-maintaining gyroscopes failed, mission team members said Sunday night (Oct. 7).

In connection with the damage to the telescope interrupted his work and was put into safe mode.

It's crucial that Hubble remain operational for at least the next few years, because its replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope, has been delayed until at least 2021.

"There isn't much difference between 2- [gyros] and 1, and it buys lots of extra observing time", tweeted Rachel Osten, the deputy mission head for Hubble at the Space Telescope Science Institute, late October 7. 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.

Ground engineers placed the telescope into its secured arrangement succeeding one of the three functioning gyros that assisted extremity the telescope was unsuccessful.

Dr. Rachel Osten, the deputy head of the Hubble mission, said it had been a "very stressful weekend".

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If the outcome indicates that the gyroscope is not usable, Hubble will resume science operations in an already defined "reduced-gyro" mode that uses only one. Hubble usually uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, but can continue to make scientific observations with just one.

Hubble has made numerous outstanding observations of the cosmos since it was deployed in 1990. Astronomers are aiming to prolong Hubble's life, but losing another gyroscope makes life hard.

The solution. NASA has three backup gyros that are more advanced technically and will hope to have longer lives. Friday's failure means Hubble is down to just two, a situation that triggered its entry into safe mode.

We know that the unit has a total of six gyroscopes, because it was designed with multiple redundancy of all systems.

Even with one gyro working, Hubble will still be able to take part in science, NASA confirmed.

The news came as a shock to the fans of the venerable space telescope, which has sent down jaw-dropping images and data to address cosmic conundrums ranging from planetary origins to the age of the universe. After this third and final older-type gyroscope failed, technicians have tried to bring the balky enhanced gyro back online.

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