Monday, 10 December, 2018

Hubble in trouble as telescope ‘suffers failure and goes into safe mode’

Телескоп Hubble вышел из строя из-за поломки Hubble Telescope in Safe Mode, NASA Working on Gyro Issues
Elijah Vega | 11 October, 2018, 03:29

NASA is working to resume science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope after the spacecraft entered safe mode on Friday, October 5, shortly after 6:00 p.m. EDT.

Till then science operations with Hubble have been suspended.

NASA announced that one of Hubble's gyroscopes failed last Friday.

"While reduced-gyro mode offers less sky coverage at any particular time, there is relatively limited impact on the overall scientific capabilities". After rumors of mission downtime began circulating on Twitter, Dr. Rachel Osten of the Hubble team confirmed that something is wrong with the telescope's gyroscopes, which it uses for orientation.

"We knew it was coming", Osten added. 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", she wrote.

Hubble was built with six gyroscopes created to keep the telescope pointed the same way for long periods of time.

The failing scope had problems earlier in the mission with "noisy" electrical signals, but engineers developed a software patch to permit normal operation.

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Launched aboard the shuttle Discovery in April 1990, Hubble is one of the most scientifically productive spacecraft ever built, generating a steady stream of astronomical discoveries and iconic photos familiar to millions around the world.

Hubble has six gyroscopes, all of which were replaced by spacewalking astronauts during a servicing mission in May 2009.

Responding to a claim that the safe mode was "scary news for the most famous telescope in history", Dr Osten downplayed the issues.

"The remaining three gyros available for use are technically enhanced and therefore expected to have significantly longer operational lives", NASA said today. 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.

Gyroscopes are needed to keep the 340-mile-high (540-kilometer-high) Hubble pointed in the right direction during observations.

If it eventually comes to that, the plan would be to skip the two-gyro mode and go directly to single-gyro control to preserve the life of the remaining unit.

NASA's preference, the post said, is to return Hubble to service in its standard three-gyro configuration. As recently as previous year, Webb was scheduled for launch in 2018, but a series of engineering setbacks and missteps has delayed liftoff until 2021 at the earliest.

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