Hubble space telescope goes into 'safe mode' over faulty gyroscope

Pablo Tucker
October 9, 2018

"The gyro that failed had been exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year, and its failure was not unexpected; two other gyros of the same type had already failed".

It's been used to date the galaxy and study black holes but now NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is taking a break from activities due to a mechanical fault.

"Built with multiple redundancies, Hubble had six new gyros installed during Servicing Mission-4 in 2009". "If the outcome of this investigation results in recovery of the malfunctioning gyro, Hubble will resume science operations in its standard three-gyro configuration", the agency stated. With the shuttle now retired, NASA has no present capability to send humans to fix the telescope. 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. The problem is that Hubble has only been operating with three of its gyroscopes up to now, the minimum needed for optimal functioning.


Though three gyroscopes are ideal, the telescope can be used on only one.

DC, USA - The Hubble space telescope, which has been in orbit since 1990, has temporarily suspended operations because of a gyroscope failure, the US space agency said Monday, October 8. "First step is try to bring back the last gyro, which had been off, and is being problematic", she wrote on Sunday.

The Hubble telescope has three pairs of two gyroscopes, with each pair consisting of a primary and back-up gyroscope.


In a series of tweets, Rachel Osten, deputy mission head for the Hubble Space Telescope at the Space Telescope Science Institute, confirmed the problem.

The Hubble telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, via the space shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. "While reduced-gyro mode offers less sky coverage at any particular time, there is relatively limited impact on the overall scientific capabilities", NASA said.

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


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