Friday, 19 October, 2018

Hubble’s Another Gyroscope Fails Forcing It To Go Into ‘Safe Mode’

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope Modal Trigger NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. NASA
Elijah Vega | 12 October, 2018, 00:46

While Hubble usually uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, it can continue to make scientific observations with just one.

The telescope orbits high up, around 350 miles up, but its path decays over time, due to the small particles from the Earth's upper atmosphere that bombard the spacecraft and drag it down towards our planet.

For nearly a year, the gyro that failed had been exhibiting end-of-life behavior, and its failure was not unexpected; another two gyros of the same type had already failed. The other three remaining gyros which are available for use for technically enhanced as well as to get a longer operational lives. The telescope could work with as few as one or two gyroscopes, although that leaves little room for additional breakdowns. This essentially leaves Hubble with only two fully functional ones. Specifically, a gyroscope that was already acting up ultimately failed and forced NASA to switch over to its last remaining backup gyro. The telescope carries a total of six gyroscopes, but only three are needed to run the telescope.

The Hubble Space Telescope has entered safe mode after complications with the instrument's gyroscopes arose last week, according to NASA. This safe mode of the telescope will be in place until ground control can correct the issue as well as take the mission back to normal operation.

This is what Hurricane Michael looks like from space
As it came ashore, Michael was just shy of a Category 5 - defined as a storm packing wind speeds of 157 miles per hour or above. On Monday, NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument captured Michael while still a Category 1.

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. Right now, HST is in safe mode while we figure out what to do.

The Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's jewel of the skies, is temporarily out of service. "If the outcome of this investigation results in recovery of the malfunctioning gyro, Hubble will resume science operations in its standard three-gyro configuration". In the meantime, two of the telescope's scientific instruments - the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and the Advanced Camera for Surveys - stopped working due to power supply failures.Good as newSpace shuttle missions returned five times to Hubble over the space telescope's first 19 years to fix it.

Ultimately, getting the gyroscope up and running would be the best-case scenario here.

During Hubble's early years the gyroscopes died often, and replacing them was one of the main tasks of servicing missions. But once more, astronomers are optimistic about Hubble's chances of recovery.

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