Hubble Telescope in 'Safe Mode' After Gyro Failure

Image    The Whirlpool Galaxy is one of the most famous images Hubble captured

Two of the gyros onboard which were similar types also previously failed.

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 placed its venerable Hubble Space Telescope into a "safe mode" on Friday evening because of gyroscope problems, the space agency confirmed Monday. The 28-year-old Hubble Telescope has been key to NASA and independent research of space.

The gyro that failed is one of three in service keeping the telescope aimed and steady, NASA said, and it had been "exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year" so "its failure was not unexpected".

There is, however, another problem. The three remaining gyroscopes have been enhanced, and - in theory at least - will have much longer operational lives than the three failed gyroscopes. "Everybody said OK, no big surprise, we've been expecting that for a year, let's turn on the gyro that was off at the time to get back onto science operations".

If the outcome indicates that the gyroscope is not usable, Hubble will resume science operations in an already defined "reduced-gyro" mode that uses only one. 5 after one of three gyros actively being used to orient the spacecraft malfunctioned.

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Hubble is now down to two working gyroscopes and needs at least three for optimal operations but it can continue to provide observations with just one functioning gyroscope.

More than 30 astronauts have flown to Hubble to deploy, upgrade and fix the observatory with the support of a human spaceflight and space shuttle staff. Thousands of astronomers from dozens of countries have used Hubble and analyzed its data to produce more than 15,000 peer reviewed papers to date.

"The plan has always been to drop to 1-gryo mode when two remain", Osten said in a Twitter exchange.

The Hubble Space telescope is now in safe mode.

Astronauts on a space shuttle servicing mission in 2009 replaced all six of Hubble's gyroscopes, but NASA no longer has the option of sending a shuttle for repairs as the shuttle program shut down in 2011. Hubble usually uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, but can continue to make scientific observations with just one. 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 unbelievable observations.

Astronomers are anxiously awaiting the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for 2021, but until then Hubble remains the most powerful space telescope in the sky - and the best tool for peering deep into space.

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