Hubble Space Telescope in ‘Safe Mode’ After Technical Disturbances

Hubble Space Telescope sidelined by serious pointing failure

Safe mode puts the telescope into a stable configuration until ground control can correct the issue and return the mission to normal operation.

Space Telescope in safe mode after gyroscope fails; science operations shut till tests finishedNASA's Hubble Space Telescope has entered safe mode, following the failure of another gyroscope, but its science operations have been suspended, the U.S. space agency said. As a result, Hubble is in so-called safe mode with non-essential systems turned off.

Six new gyroscopes were installed during the servicing mission-4 in Hubble made with the additional gyroscope in 2009. Although Hubble uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, it can continue to make scientific observations with just one, NASA said.

Even so, The Hubble Space Telescope is able to go back to work since it can work with only 2 gyroscopes. Two of the gyros onboard which were similar types also previously failed. While the remaining three gyros are "technically enhanced" and should be more operationally durable than the those that have failed, just two of them are now running.

The Hubble Space Telescope has entered safe mode after complications with the instrument's gyroscopes arose last week, according to NASA. The news started out as rumors on Twitter but the Hubble's deputy mission head at the Space Telescope Science Institute, Rachel Osten confirmed the authenticity of the tweets.

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After the recent mechanical failure, controllers have tried to switch to a different gyroscope, but that was found to be malfunctioning.

For now, all the science operations for Hubble has been suspended.

On October 5th, 2018, Hubble was operating with two enhanced gyroscopes and the lone older model with the third upgraded unit (powered down but ready to use, if needed).

"While reduced-gyro mode offers less sky coverage at any particular time, there is relatively limited impact on the overall scientific capabilities", NASA added. "That could really have been the beginning of the end", Jenkner says.The team has known for more than a decade that someday Hubble will have to work with fewer than three gyroscopes. This is certainly a serious problem for astronomers, as any slight variation could ruin the research and the validity of the data collected. In other words, it has been the most critical asset that helped scientists take a better look at the Universe that, thanks to Hubble, is a little less unknown today.

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