Hubble Telescope Stops Collecting Data After Mechanical Fault

IN SPACE In this handout from the National Aeronautical Space Administration, the Hubble Space Telescope drifts through space in

The Register first noticed a questionmark over Hubble's health during the weekend, when Michigan State University astronomer Jay Strader tweeted rumours that it was in safe mode "following a gyro failure".

As supporting evidence, he said, there was a two-day gap in the data, something backed up by Icelandic astronomer Steinn Sigurdsson, who provided this link to its schedule.

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 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.

"The gyro that failed had been exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year, and its failure was not unexpected; two other gyros of the same type had already failed", NASA officials said in the statement.

Scientists had already planned to reduce Hubble to using only a single gyroscope at a time once it was down to three, that being meant to prolong the space telescope's lifespan for as long as possible.

The telescope is now operating on two of these enhanced gyros.

There is, however, another problem. "The three remaining gyro is better in technical terms and therefore should have a longer service life", - noted in NASA.

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Pictured above is the Hubble mission operations team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as of Hubble's 25th anniversary of flight.

The device refused one of the gyros.

NASA's decision to retire its space shuttles in 2011 means that astronauts can not service the 28-year-old observatory as they once did. It's been peering into the depths of space for almost three decades now, and while it's had a few hiccups in the past, it's always managed to push through them and continue providing humanity with awesome observations.

Hubble has made numerous outstanding observations of the cosmos since it was deployed in 1990.

It's been used to date the galaxy and study black holes but now NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is taking a break from activities due to a mechanical fault.

Only two of those enhanced gyros are now running.

On October 5th, 2018, Hubble was operating with two enhanced gyroscopes and the lone older model with the third upgraded unit (powered down but ready to use, if needed). Hubble usually uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, but can continue to make scientific observations with just one. As recently as a year ago, 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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