Hubble Space Telescope Malfunction Won't Last Long, NASA Says

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

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

As supporting evidence, he said, there was a two-day gap in the data, something backed up by Icelandic astronomer Steinn Sigurdsson, who provided this link to its schedule.

But it has been in "safe mode" since Friday after one of the three gyroscopes used to aim and steady the telescope failed.

Till then science operations with Hubble have been suspended.

"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 announced that one of Hubble's gyroscopes failed last Friday.

Hubble is now down to two working gyros and needs at least three for optimal operations.

There is, however, another problem. The remaining three gyros available for use are technically enhanced and therefore expected to have significantly longer operational lives. Experts at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute are analyzing the situation and conducting tests to find out whether the third gyro can be recovered.

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NASA's preference, the post said, is to return Hubble to service in its standard three-gyro configuration. 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.

Launched aboard the shuttle Discovery in April 1990, Hubble is one of the most scientifically productive spacecraft ever built, generating a steady stream of astronomical discoveries and iconic photos familiar to millions around the world. Right now HST is in safe mode while we figure out what to do.

The plan "has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain", Osten said, adding "there isn't much difference between 2- and 1, and it buys lots of extra observing time". That issue is keeping the spacecraft from resuming normal operations using three gyros.

"Very stressful weekend", Rachel Osten, deputy mission head for the Hubble Space Telescope, tweeted on Sunday.

One of the telescope's most famous images is a portion of the Eagle Nebula, known as the "Pillars of Creation", which shows three columns of cold gas illuminated by light from a cluster of young stars.

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.

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