Hubble Telescope Stops Collecting Data After Mechanical Fault

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

Osten also noted that the team has had a "very stressful weekend" and that the Hubble is now "in safe mode while we figure out what to do".

"NASA is working to resume science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope after the spacecraft entered safe mode on Friday, October 5, shortly after 6:00 pm EDT, "the agency wrote".

While the telescope is not expected to be at risk of being permanently out of order, two of the four gyroscopes used to direct the telescope towards its targets in the sky have failed. Besides redundancy, three functional gyroscopes also provide more flexibility in pointing, Sembach said.

As Space.com reports, the Hubble requires a trio of gyroscopes to operate at its optimal capacity.

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).

The device refused one of the gyros.

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".

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

Dr. Rachel Osten, the deputy head of the Hubble mission, said it had been a "very stressful weekend". This past Friday night, Hubble was operating normally with two newer gyros and one older model.

IN SPACE - MAY 13: In this handout from NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope is grappled to Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-125 by the shuttle's Canadian-built remote manipulator system May 13, 2009 in Space.

According to BBC News, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is Hubble's designated successor, but it has experienced a series of delays and will not launch until 2021, at the earliest. 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.

"Mission experts are taking steps to return Hubble to great science", the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said in a tweet.

"The plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain". The third one hasn't been performing at the level required for operations, NASA said.

Hubble's success is due in no small part to five servicing missions flown by space shuttle crews, including an initial visit in 1993 to fix the telescope's flawed optics and the final visit in 2009 that replaced the gyros and provided additional upgrades.

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