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

NASA's Hubble Telescope is in Danger After Gyroscope Fails

According to the NASA statement, the particular gyroscope that failed has been acting up for about a year.

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

Despite the fact that Hubble uses three gyros at a given single time for maximum efficiency, it can go on with scientific observations with just one of them, NASA said.

Now, NASA will try to fix the Hubble Space Telescope, although it will not be an easy task, as it could get worse if it is not done well.

Last week, the Hubble telescope stood down from observing and put itself into "safe mode" after one of its gyroscopes, which keeps it aimed at objects of scientific interest in space, died.

One of NASA's most successful telescopes is in a precarious situation after a critical piece failed.

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Since 2009, Hubble has installed six gyroscopes, three enhanced ones and three standards.

As of now, two of those enhanced gyros are in running condition. The analysis of them shows that telemetry shows that it was not performing at the level it was programmed for.

Staff at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance. An Anomaly Review Board made up of experts in the field will also convene to investigate and figure out a recovery plan.

The Hubble Space Telescope had to be placed into safe mode after it encountered a major issue on Friday, Oct. 5. However, this would severely limit the sky covered by the telescope at any given time and restrict the data collected. "That could really have been the beginning of the end", Jenkner says.The team has known for more than a decade that someday Hubble will have to work with fewer than three gyroscopes. The power system of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) failed in August 2004. In 2002, astronauts aboard the space shuttle Columbia visited Hubble to replace its solar panels and install new cameras (seen here inside Columbia's cargo bay with the glow of Earth's horizon in the background).

But when ground controllers tried to bring the backup gyroscope online, it behaved erratically, sending garbled messages back to the ground, said Ken Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which operates the telescope.

Interesting Engineering will continue to follow this story and update it as more information becomes available.

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