Hubble placed in safe mode as gyro issues investigated

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 12, 2018

The reason behind this decision of putting the work of one of the most iconic NASA's instrument on standby was taken after a failure in the gyroscopes of the instrument. On Friday, the telescope stood down from observing and put itself into "safe mode" after one of its gyroscopes, which keep it aimed at objects of scientific interest, died.

Out of the six gyroscopes mounted on it, two of the older design gyroscope have a history of failing after just 50,000 hours after being sent in the space which left the observatory with total four gyroscopes of which, Hubble used two newer and one older design of gyroscope keeping one newer version as a reserve for future. Hubble was created to be repaired by astronauts on the space shuttle.

A statement issued by the U.S. space agency said that Hubble entered safe mode on Friday, October 5, after one of the three gyros now used to position the telescope failed.

It was only a matter of time before one of the most critical observation instruments that have allowed us to know the Universe better began to give signs of "fatigue". The three gyroscopes still in operation (including the backup that is now malfunctioning) are of a newer type, and are expected to live five times as long as the older ones, which last four to six years.The team expects Hubble to continue doing science well into the 2020s and to have years of overlap with its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, due to launch in 2021.

Hubble telescope has six new gyros installed inside it during the Servicing Mission-4 in 2009 and it is built with multiple redundancies.

Two of those enhanced gyros are now running. The analysis of them shows that telemetry shows that it was not performing at the level it was programmed for.

NASA has not released a projected timeline, but they are optimistic that the Hubble Space Telescope will be in normal operations soon. As a result, Hubble is in so-called safe mode with non-essential systems turned off. However, this would severely limit the sky covered by the telescope at any given time and restrict the data collected.

Launched in 1990, Hubble has had trouble with its gyroscopes before. However, the power backup failed in 2007.

Even so, The Hubble Space Telescope is able to go back to work since it can work with only 2 gyroscopes.

Interesting Engineering will continue to follow this story and update it as more information becomes available.

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