Hubble in safe mode, but science operations suspended

  • Hubble in safe mode, but science operations suspended

Hubble in safe mode, but science operations suspended

Though the space telescope remains in operation, the malfunction highlights the limited time Hubble has remaining. Despite that there were of course some "excitable" headlines that read nearly as though all is lost.

The telescope could work with as few as one or two gyroscopes, although that leaves little room for additional breakdowns.

Dr. Rachel Osten, the deputy head of the Hubble mission, said it had been a "very stressful weekend". "First step is try to bring back the last gyro, which had been off, and is being problematic", she wrote on Sunday.

"Broken gyro worked badly for about a year, and its failure was not a surprise".

The following is a statement from NASA that offers further insight.

NASA has not released a projected timeline, but they are optimistic that the Hubble Space Telescope will be in normal operations soon.

If needed, the Hubble Space Telescope can operate using just one gyroscope; and, as we saw with the Kepler Space Telescope, which lost the second of its four reaction wheels in 2013, a space telescope can continue to be useful even after it loses its ability to point effectively.

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

The six gyros on the Hubble were replaced in 2009 during the final servicing mission to the instrument by NASA's space shuttle.

The gyro that failed is one of three in service keeping the telescope aimed and steady, NASA said, and it had been "exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year" so "its failure was not unexpected". The three remaining gyroscopes have been enhanced, and - in theory at least - will have much longer operational lives than the three failed gyroscopes. Since Hubble's official start in 1977, thousands of people from the United States and Europe have supported the mission through building and testing hardware and software, operating the vehicle, and performing science operations.

Named after astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, the foremost American astronomer of the 20th century, the sophisticated optical observatory was placed into orbit about 600 kilometers (370 miles) above Earth by the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 25, 1990.

"It's not a hard decision, @astrogrant: the plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain". Until this past Friday, Hubble worked properly with two newer gyros and one of the older-generation gyros, while the third newer unit was held in reserve.

Scientists are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance. "I'm sure Hubble has many years of good science ahead of it".