Hubble Telescope Put Into Safe Mode Following Gyroscope Failure

Image    Hubble's image of the Pillars of Creation is among the most famous ever taken

"Hubble entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes actively being used to point and steady the telescope failed". As a result, Hubble remains in safe mode.

Responding to a claim that the safe mode was "scary news for the most famous telescope in history", Dr Osten downplayed the issues.

In 2020 NASA will launch Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, a more powerful instrument that will offer astronomers unprecedented views of the cosmos.

Hubble is equipped with six gyroscopes to orient the telescope.

Scientists 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.

"It's true. Very stressful weekend". Another gyro failed. First step is try to bring back the last gyro, which had been off, and is being problematic'.

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

Even if that particular gyroscope stays out of order, Hubble can get back to work - while it works best with three gyroscopes, the telescope can run on just one without losing too much scientific power.

Since its launch, the space telescope has made over 163,500 trips around Earth, more than 1.5 million observations of over 43,500 celestial objects and generated 153 terabytes of data, as per cnet.com.

The failed gyroscope has already been showing end-of-life behavior for about a year, NASA said on its website. Astronomers are aiming to prolong Hubble's life, but losing another gyroscope makes life hard. If it eventually comes to that, the plan would be to skip the two-gyro mode and go directly to single-gyro control to preserve the life of the remaining unit.

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

"That doesn't mean we can't see the whole sky at some time during the year, we can", Sembach said.

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.

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

"So things closer in in the solar system than, say, the orbit of Mars, that would be more hard", he said.

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