NASA's venerable Hubble Space Telescope is in safe mode after the failure of one of its gyros and a problem with another, but the agency said this specific problem did not put the orbiting observatory in jeopardy.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has suffered another mechanical damage, losing one of the last three gyros that it possessed, which allows it to orient and change its direction.
NASA was quick to offer reassurance: "Hubble's instruments still are fully operational and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come", public affairs officer Felicia Chou wrote in an update on the NASA website.
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has been at work in orbit since 1990. The remaining three available for use are technically enhanced, and, therefore, are expected to have significantly longer operational lives. Hubble can do good science with two gyroscopes, or even one, astrophysicist Grant Tremblay, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said via Twitter Sunday. Very stressful weekend. Right now HST is in safe mode while we figure out what to do.
Rachel Osten, the deputy mission head of the spacecraft, shared in a tweet that the team is trying to revive one of the gyros that failed.
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In all, more than 500 people helped with rescue and cleaning up operations, authorities said. Others were caught on the road, unable to reach their houses.
Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990 and helped publish more than 15,000 scientific papers. A replacement for the device, the James Webb Space Telescope, has already been established but won't launch until 2021.
We know that the unit has a total of six gyroscopes, because it was designed with multiple redundancy of all systems.
"That doesn't mean we can't see the whole sky at some time during the year, we can", Sembach said. That issue is keeping the spacecraft from resuming normal operations using three gyros.
Osten said, 'The plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain. After this third and final older-type gyroscope failed, technicians have tried to bring the balky enhanced gyro back online. There are three gyros of the older generation with a history of showing signs of malfunction after 50,000 hours of service.
The instrument, named after astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble, has been celebrated for its involvement in tracking asteroids, analysing the Kuiper Belt and documenting the nebula of dying stars.