Gyroscope Malfunction Forces NASA To Put Hubble Into 'Safe Mode'

  • Gyroscope Malfunction Forces NASA To Put Hubble Into 'Safe Mode'

Gyroscope Malfunction Forces NASA To Put Hubble Into 'Safe Mode'

The Hubble Space Telescope was designed with several redundancies in the instance of inevitable part failure.

Space Telescope in safe mode after gyroscope fails; science operations shut till tests finishedNASA's Hubble Space Telescope has entered safe mode, following the failure of another gyroscope, but its science operations have been suspended, the U.S. space agency said. The Hubble Space Telescope also uses three gyroscopes at a time for "maximum efficiency", but it can also still make scientific observations with one. That particular gyroscope had been glitching for about a year. Even if NASA stated recently, on October 8, that the instrument is expected to be ready to work soon, the astronomical community is still anxious. The mood is upbeat, Wiseman says.

After the recent mechanical failure, controllers have tried to switch to a different gyroscope, but that was found to be malfunctioning.

Rachel Osten, the deputy mission head of the spacecraft, shared in a tweet that the team is trying to revive one of the gyros that failed. Its curvature was off by two micrometers, making the images slightly blurry.The telescope soldiered on, despite being the butt of jokes on late-night TV.

The fate of Hubble's explorations relies on whether the space telescope will operate on one gyro or three.

It was only a matter of time before one of the most critical observation instruments that have allowed us to know the Universe better began to give signs of "fatigue".

The telescope is a veteran, according to experts, will be able to work in space for not more than ten years, after which it will probably wind up on the "cemetery of the satellites" in the Pacific ocean.

Launched in 1990, Hubble has had trouble with its gyroscopes before.

"The gyro that failed had been exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year, and its failure was not unexpected; two other gyros of the same type had already failed", NASA explained in a statement. "This time will come at some point in Hubble's mission, either now or later."Shutting down the third gyroscope was expected to extend Hubble's life by only eight months, until mid-2008". In 2002, astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia visited Hubble to replace its solar panels and install new cameras (seen here inside Columbia's cargo bay with the glow of Earth's horizon in the background). Six new gyros were installed during a servicing mission in 2009, three of which have now malfunctioned.