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Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed
11 October 2018, 03:29 | Edward Lowe
There’s something wrong with the Hubble Space Telescope
Mike Wehner @MikeWehner
Analysis and testing on the backup gyro are ongoing to determine why it is not performing as expected. This essentially leaves Hubble with only two fully functional ones. Until this past Friday, Hubble worked properly with two newer gyros and one of the older-generation gyros, while the third newer unit was held in reserve.
"I don't think anybody is worried-worried that the mission, say, is coming to an end, because it's not".
Worry rippled through the astronomical community this weekend as NASA announced that the Hubble Space Telescopewas in safe mode - but NASA confirmed in a statement released yesterday (Oct. 8) that the agency expected the instrument to be back at work soon.
In connection with the damage to the telescope interrupted his work and was put into safe mode.
That was unfortunate, as the telescope requires at least three functional gyroscopes for optimal use. As a result, Hubble is in so-called safe mode with non-essential systems turned off. "First step is try to bring back the last gyro, which had been off, and is being problematic", she wrote on Sunday.
In the meantime, NASA has suspended activity while it forms an Anomaly Review Board to investigate the issue and develop a recovery plan. Assuming the team can rescue the malfunctioning gyroscope, Hubble will resume operations in its standard three-gyro configuration. It will only use one of its remaining functioning gyros, which will limit its sky coverage.
The telescope, which travels the Earth at about five miles per second - equivalent to driving from America's East to West Coast in just 10 minutes - faces out to space to take pictures of planets, stars and galaxies to help scientists learn about the solar system.
Ultimately, getting the gyroscope up and running would be the best-case scenario here. Also, time is crucial because the Hubble can't perform effectively while in the safe mode. The space shuttle Atlantis' mission is to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope in order to extend its working life.
"In many respects, James Webb is going to be very superior to Hubble, but not in every respect", said Prof.
He added, "There are some things we're only going to be able to do with Hubble for the foreseeable future". Hubble uses its gyroscopes to keep itself aimed precisely at what astronomers are using it to observe.
NASA revealed the issue on its Hubble Twitter account, though it didn't have many details to provide.
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