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

12 October, 2018, 00:47 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Stunning space images taken from the Hubble telescope

Astronomers have recently been talking about how they can extend Hubble's life so that it could continue to serve the astronomy community. Hubble was created to be repaired by astronauts on the space shuttle.

On Friday, the Hubble Space Observatory, which gave us phenomenal images of the celestial bodies in your milky way and beyond, has been put on a "safe mode" after one of the three gyroscopes mounted on the spacecraft reached its end of life. NASA split the mission into two parts to get to the telescope more quickly.

The closed gyroscope was showing signs of being worsened for almost a year, and it was not unexpected to stop the work.

The reason behind this decision of putting the work of one of the most iconic NASA's instrument on standby was taken after a failure in the gyroscopes of the instrument.

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"Hubble entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes actively being used to point and steady the telescope failed".

Till then science operations with Hubble are suspended. Now, half of Hubble's gyroscopes are unusable, so pointing in a particular direction is very hard and inaccurate.

But when ground controllers tried to bring the backup gyroscope online, it behaved erratically, sending garbled messages back to the ground, said Ken Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which operates the telescope. For the moment, NASA has left it out of circulation, since one of the gyroscopes stopped working last Friday, so aiming at any space object is more now hard.

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in the year 1990 into low Earth orbit and until now remained in operation. Spacewalking shuttle astronauts replaced all six in 2009. The tragic destruction of Columbia in 2003 nearly made this the last Hubble visit. The three gyroscopes still in operation (including the backup that is now malfunctioning) are of a newer type, and are expected to live five times as long as the older ones, which last four to six years.The team expects Hubble to continue doing science well into the 2020s and to have years of overlap with its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, due to launch in 2021. Six new gyros were installed during a servicing mission in 2009, three of which have now malfunctioned. "We are always anxious", says Jenkner, who has been working on Hubble since 1983. We have to admit that this is the most successful project NASA came up with.

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