Hubble in 'safe mode', but science operations suspended

Hubble in 'safe mode', but science operations suspended

Hubble's pseudo-successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, was supposed to already be up and running for years by this point, but Northrop Grumman's inability to do the job it's being paid billions of dollars to do has caused over a decade's worth of delays.

NASA scientists are desperately trying to fix the Hubble Space Telescope, which is now pointing the wrong way because of a technical fault.

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

Two gyros of the same type had already failed.

One newspaper quoted Rachel Osten, Hubble's deputy mission head at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, said: "It's true".

Bottom line: The Hubble Space Telescope has been in safe mode since last Friday evening, following the failure of one of the gyros that helps stabilize it. NASA is analyzing the problem and hopes to resume operations soon. The team is now working on getting the misbehaving gyroscope to snap out of its funk, but if it can't manage to do that the spacecraft will be brought down to a one-gyroscope mode in order to preserve longevity. It's worth nothing that the gyroscope failure wasn't unexpected; the problem is how to deal with it.

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"While reduced-gyro mode offers less sky coverage at any particular time, there is relatively limited impact on the overall scientific capabilities", NASA said.

Although NASA revealed the telescope's gyroscope failure, it didn't disclose very many other details. But only three gyros are needed for normal telescope operation with the others held in reserve.

"If the outcome of this investigation results in recovery of the malfunctioning gyro, Hubble will resume science operations in its standard three-gyro configuration", NASA said in a statement on Monday. "At any given time, Hubble needs three of its six gyroscopes operating to ensure optimal efficiency", NASA says. That gyro, which had been powered down, is not "performing at the level required for operations", according to spacecraft telemetry after it was commanded to turn on.

Should engineers conclude that the enhanced gyro can't be used, leaving only two, controllers plan to shift to an alternative mode that allows the spacecraft to operate with just a single gyro.

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

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