Hubble trouble: Deep space telescope in ‘safe mode’ after mechanical fail

Hubble trouble: Deep space telescope in ‘safe mode’ after mechanical fail

Hubble trouble: Deep space telescope in ‘safe mode’ after mechanical fail

The current fault had been anticipated because the gyroscope had been "exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year", according to NASA.

Hubble's success is due in no small part to five servicing missions flown by space shuttle crews, including an initial visit in 1993 to fix the telescope's flawed optics and the final visit in 2009 that replaced the gyros and provided additional upgrades. It had six new gyros installed during Servicing Mission-4 in 2009.

If the team can't bring the malfunctioning gyroscopes back, it'll switch to operating with one or two gyroscopes, Osten said. Right now, only two of the three gyros are working properly: "Upon powering on the third enhanced gyro that had been held in reserve, analysis of spacecraft telemetry indicated that it was not performing at the level required for operations".

Hubble can operate on just two gyroscopes, or even one, but that limits its ability to point at targets.

Two of those enhanced gyros are now running.

The Hubble Space Telescope - responsible for capturing some of the most powerful images of deep space - is in safe mode following a series of component failures.

"There isn't much difference between 2- [gyros] and 1, and it buys lots of extra observing time", tweeted Rachel Osten, the deputy mission head for Hubble at the Space Telescope Science Institute, late October 7.

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Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute staff are now working out what can be done to "recover the gyro to operational performance", and an "Anomaly Review Board" has been put together to develop a recovery plan. As a result, Hubble remains in safe mode.

'Which the Astro community wants desperately.

"Hubble's instruments still are fully operational and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come", the NASA statement reads.

Till then science operations with Hubble have been suspended.

Although Hubble uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, it can still continue to make scientific observations with just one, NASA said.

Caption: A photo taken by the Hubble space telescope.

"We'll work through the issues and be back", she promised.

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