Hubble Space Telescope was left pointing the wrong way after a gyroscope failure | Science | The Guardian

The Hubble Space Telescope has been sidelined after a gyroscope failed, leaving it unable to point in the right direction during the observations.

The device was expected to fail sometime this year, but the surprise came when the backup didn’t kick in right Friday after the failure of NASA said on Monday.

As a result, the Hubble remains in what is called Safe Mode and all science observations.

The 28-year-old telescope has a problem with gyros before. Spacewalking shuttle astronauts replaced all six in 2009 during the final service mission. Three of the devices are now considered unusable.

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“I think Hubble is in good hands now, I really do,” said Kenneth Sembach director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates Hubble. “The fact that we have some rotor problems of this kind of long tradition with the Observatory.”

Gyroscopes needed to keep Hubble pointing in the right direction through observations of 340 miles (540km) above the ground. Precise pointing is crucial: astronomers using a telescope to peer deep into the cosmos, revealing distant solar systems as well as galaxies and black holes. In just the past week, said astronomers have discovered the first moon outside our solar system, Hubble.

Since its launch in 1990, Hubble has made more than 1.3 m and observations.

Two of Hubble’s gyros work well, Sembach. The last one was in reserve but it was closed several years ago after we use some of the “funny behavior” although it has been get the job done. That was one flight controller turned in on Saturday as a backup. As of Monday, it still does not work as expected.

Sembach said Everyone wants to be careful in trying to repair. “Obviously we don’t want to make things worse,” he said.

Haber is usually used three gyroscopes to function, but you can get by with one or two, what you did before. But this does not leave room for additional crash. Besides the repetition of three functional gyroscopes also provide more flexibility in signal Sembach.

“I’ll be fine,” he said of the Baltimore show. “I’m sure the Hubble has many years of good science before that.”


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