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 USA space agency said.
As of now, the scientists are carrying on analyses and tests to determine the options that are available to recover the gyro and bring it back to life.
Hubble Telescope has got six gyros installed during the Servicing Mission-4 in the year 2009. In a series of tweets and a press release, the space agency revealed that one of the three gyroscopes (gyros) that is now in use failed. And even though Hubble needs three gyros at a time to operate at maximum efficiency, it can still observe its surroundings with just one working.
NASA became aware of the issue last Friday when a gyro, already displaying "end of life" behavior, went out of action. The remaining three available for use are technically enhanced, and, therefore, are expected to have significantly longer operational lives. Like cataracts, he says, it's "a sign of aging, but there's a very good remedy."While we wait for news of how Hubble is faring, here's a look back at some of its previous hiccups and fix missions.1990: The blurry mirrorOn June 27, 1990, three months after the space telescope launched, astronomers discovered an aberration in Hubble's primary mirror". Science operations have been suspended while it is repaired - if it can be repaired. NASA said the "enhanced" gyro did not quite behave the way it was supposed to.
An Anomaly Review Board, including experts from the Hubble team, and industry familiar with the design and performance of this type of gyro, is being formed to investigate the issue and develop a recovery plan.
If the outcome indicates that the gyroscope is not usable, Hubble will resume science operations in an already defined "reduced-gyro" mode that uses only one. The engineers ground crew turned off all the extra systems and moved the spacecraft into safe mode. While the mode offers less sky coverage at any particular time, there is a relatively limited impact on overall scientific capabilities.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in the year 1990 into low Earth orbit and until now remained in operation. This is certainly a serious problem for astronomers, as any slight variation could ruin the research and the validity of the data collected.