Hubble Telescope Operating Normally Following Failed Gyro Incident


The Hubble Space Telescope has gone back to its normal operations two weeks after one of the gyroscopes onboard the spacecraft malfunctioned.

NASA reported on Saturday, Oct. 27, that the nearly 30-year-old observatory was taken out of safe mode. It also has completed its first science observation since the malfunction, collecting data on a distant star-forming galaxy DSF2237B-1-IR over the weekend.

What Happened To The Hubble Space Telescope?

The issue of the Hubble Space Telescope started on Oct. 6 when one of the three gyros in use failed. However, it did not cause concern because the spacecraft is equipped with six gyros, three of which are meant to be in storage for situations like this.

Unfortunately, two other gyros failed in the past, leaving one final gyro in storage. When that final backup gyro malfunctioned, NASA had to turn the Hubble Space Telescope into safe mode.

A gyro is important to the operations of the space observatory. The instrument is responsible for stabilizing and pointing the telescope to a certain direction for long periods of observation.

The backup gyro, while functioning, was returning inaccurate turning rates. For the past two weeks. scientists from ground control have been performing basic troubleshooting techniques, including turning the instrument off and on again, to fix the issue. Thankfully, last week, the gyro produced normal rotation rates, making NASA believe that the space observatory is ready to return back to its regular operations.

The U.S. space agency said that the Hubble is currently functioning with three gyros and is expected to be in operation for the next decade or more. The telescope experienced similar issues in the past but, in 2009, spacewalking shuttle astronauts installed six new gyros in the orbiting observatory.

Chandra Also Back To Normal

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which also went to safe mode a few days after Hubble, has also returned to normal operations. On Oct. 21, NASA officials said that the glitch has been fixed and the space observatory has gone back to work.

The space agency also identified an issue in the pointing and orientation of the spacecraft. Its gyroscope was not functioning as expected.

To fix the issue, scientists from ground control enabled a new configuration for the gyroscope of the spacecraft. NASA will continue to observe and fine-tune the performance of the gyroscope configuration as necessary.

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