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09 October 2018, 06:30 | Ross Houston
There’s something wrong with the Hubble Space Telescope
Mike Wehner @MikeWehner
"Hubble entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes actively being used to point and steady the telescope failed".
It's impossible to overstate the amount of data Hubble has collected during its 28-year stint in space, and its overall contributions to science.
Most of the giant Hubble Space Telescope can be seen as it is suspended in space by Discovery's Remote Manipulator System (RMS) following the deployment of part of its solar panels and antennae. Even two doesn't present a crippling failure for the telescope.
Hubble is now down to two working gyros and needs at least 3 for optimal operations.
Bottom line: The Hubble Space Telescope has been in safe mode since last Friday evening, following the failure of one of the gyros that helps stabilize it. NASA is analyzing the problem and hopes to resume operations soon.
But when the telescope's operators switched the instrument to running on all three enhanced gyroscopes, one wasn't working quite as well as it should have been.
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'Right now HST is in safe mode while we figure out what to do.
"The plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain", Rachel Osten, deputy head of the Hubble mission said on Twitter. If that's not possible, it can operate using a single gyro, keeping the second in reserve. All six were replaced in 2009 but since then three of them have become unusable. With two gyroscopes, Hubble would be limited in the objects it could observe.
Behind such thicker dust pockets, material is shielded from the harsh, withering glare of O and B stars. The current problem, though, is a reminder that, with the retirement of the shuttle, NASA now lacks a means to fix or upgrade Hubble.
'Not really scary, we knew it was coming. The newly failed gyro is the last of that old design, and it lasted about six months longer than expected. "We'll work through the issues and be back", she wrote. "If the outcome of this investigation results in recovery of the malfunctioning gyro, Hubble will resume science operations in its standard three-gyro configuration", the agency stated.
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