'Goodnight Moon'... second space telescope 'goes to sleep'

Another NASA space telescope just went into safe mode

It's been a bad couple weeks in space.

Another NASA space telescope has shut down and halted science observations.

In a statement October 12, NASA said the Chandra X-Ray Observatory entered a safe mode on the morning of October 10.

Chandra is created to make X-ray observations of distant space features, including quasars, supernovas and black holes.

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory, observing the universe in high-energy light since 1999, has entered a protective "safe mode", which interrupts scientific observations and puts the spacecraft into a stable configuration. The satellite's most critical hardware is transferred to backup drives.

Nasa said yesterday that Chandra automatically went into "safe mode", possibly because of a gyroscope problem.

In a tweet published on the Chandra Observatory Twitter page, NASA said the telescope was created to only last five years, meaning even if this failure puts it out of commission, it has far exceeded expectations.

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"Analysis of available data indicates the transition to safe mode was normal behavior for such an event". "All systems functioned as expected and the scientific instruments are safe".

Scientists are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance.

Shifting to one-gyro operations will "still provide excellent science well into the 2020s", NASA said, but acknowledged that it would operate at "slightly lower efficiency" in that mode. 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.

Because the gyro is reading rates of changes at a greater magnitude, it can't be used to monitor smaller changes.

"The extremely high rates now being reported exceed the upper limit of the gyro in this low mode, preventing the gyro from reporting the spacecraft's small movements", NASA reported.

Hubble went into hibernation last Friday because of a gyroscope failure. Previous tests showed Hubble can conduct observation using a single gyro.

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