Gyroscope trouble sees Hubble switch into 'safe mode'

09 October, 2018, 08:51 | Author: Darnell Taylor

That would permit one of the two gyros to be turned off, preserving its life until it's needed when the other fails. These six gyroscopes were replaced during a 2009 fix mission to the telescope.

"Safe mode puts the telescope into a stable configuration until ground control can correct the issue and return the mission to normal operation".

"I think Hubble's in good hands right now, I really do", said Kenneth Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates Hubble. The failed gyro is the last of the older ones.

Hubble is equipped with six gyroscopes, but it's been operating with only three active gyros.

Spacewalking shuttle astronauts replaced all six in 2009.

The troublesome gyroscope leaves two functioning ones, Space.com reports.

But, while Osten shared on Twitter that it has been a "very stressful weekend", she also assured the general public that "we knew it was coming", and that this gyro actually lasted longer than the team had initially planned for.

'The gyro lasted about six months longer than we thought it would (almost pulled the plug on it back in the spring). "We'll work through the issues and be back", Osten added in another tweet.

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It's frustrating, of course, when a much-loved piece of technology such as Hubble shows its mortality.

'Which the Astro community wants desperately.

Astronomers use the orbiting observatory to peer deep into the cosmos, revealing faraway solar systems as well as galaxies and black holes.

Hubble's pseudo-successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, was supposed to already be up and running for years by this point, but Northrop Grumman's inability to do the job it's being paid billions of dollars to do has caused over a decade's worth of delays.

He is arguably most famous for discovering that the universe is expanding and the rate at which is does so - now coined the Hubble constant.

"There isn't much difference between 2- [gyros] and 1, and it buys lots of extra observing time", tweeted Rachel Osten, the deputy mission head for Hubble at the Space Telescope Science Institute, late October 7.

Hubble has the pointing accuracy of.007 arc seconds, which is like being able to shine a laser beam focused on Franklin D. Roosevelt's head on a dime roughly 200 miles away. That way, Hubble has a longer total lifespan.

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