NASA's Hubble Telescope Moves Closer To Normal Operations After Failed Gyroscope

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Hubble Space Telescope one of 16 suffering data-scrambling sensor error READ MORE

All of the telescope's science instrumentation is still fully operational, and in a pinch it can operate using just one of its gyros, so it's expected the telescope will provide at least a few more years of science. This gyro device is said to be measuring the speed of the spacecraft and at what speed it is turning as well as it is needed to help Hubble turn as well as lock on the new targets. However, it sent back readings that were clearly too high. It's actually been offline for seven and a half years, and when NASA began using it once more, it was sending back bad information about how the Hubble was turning. They tried to turn the gyro on and off again. "The team saw no problems and continued to observe the gyro through the weekend to ensure that it remained stable", added NASA. Would that it were that easy, Crouse said. That appeared to work; a short time later, they gyro quit estimating super high rotation rates for Hubble.

They had hoped that if it turned off the gyro and restarted it quickly before the wheel stopped spinning, it would fix the problem. The team checked if there were any jams by turning the gyroscope in opposite directions.

Crouse paused when asked to explain what had happened in layman's terms.

Still, that didn't stop a variety of news outlets from reporting that NASA had fixed its telescope "the way you fix your router".

What is the Hubble Space Telescope?

All six of these instruments have been replaced at some point over the telescope's almost 30-year history in orbit. "Someone flipped a switch on and off", USA Today followed.

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"It's hard to keep everybody up to date on exactly the process", he said.

'We're facing a very daunting prospect as a community. "We're not out of the woods yet, but we're very optimistic we can get back to doing science again".

Hubble was launched in 1990 and earlier this month it malfunctioned, halting its work and reinforced to the scientists that are totally dependent on the 28-year-old machine just how reliant they are on technology first designed in the 1970s. Time magazine has a roundup of the 50 "best" photos taken by Hubble, though all are quite extraordinary in their own way, depending on one's interest in any particular corner of the universe.

"Hubble going down to one-gyro mode would in particular have hampered our efforts to characterize extrasolar planet atmospheres in the years running up to James Webb", research scientist Jessie Christiansen at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute told Gizmodo.

Hubble is prized by the astronomical community, and observing time has to be carefully managed because of the high demand.

Earth's most powerful telescopes are beginning to show the strain of decades of use and may soon stop working completely.

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