NASAs Hubble Space Telescope Back Online Continues Cosmic Research

first_img Systems are a go for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope after the successful recovery of a backup gyroscope replaced one that failed earlier this month.The spacecraft entered safe mode on Oct. 5, remaining in a stable configuration for three weeks; HST returned to normal operations late on Friday.It completed science observations the next day, using the Wide Field Camera 3 instrument to capture infrared wavelengths of a distant, star-forming galaxy.Built with multiple redundancies, Hubble had six new gyroscopes installed in 2009; it usually uses three at a time for maximum efficiency, but can continue to make observations with as few as one.The failed gyro—used to point and steady the telescope—was an inevitability, according to NASA. Exhibiting end-of-life behavior for about a year, the gadget actually exceeded expectations.“The gyro lasted about six months longer than we thought it would,” Rachel Osten, deputy mission head for the Hubble Space Telescope tweeted, admitting that the operations team “almost pulled the plug on it back in the spring.”Two gyros of the same type had already failed. The remaining three are technically enhanced and therefore expected to have significantly longer operational lives.Last week, Hubble twisted and turned through space as Earth-bound engineers switched the gyro between different operational modes. The maneuvers managed to clear what was believed to be a blockage inside the gyroscope.A few more tests ensured the tool was stable; the team then installed additional safeguards to help avoid a similar situation in the future (though “this is not anticipated,” according to NASA).Back on target for science observations, HST on Saturday collected its first set of data since Oct. 5.The agency’s Chandra X-ray observatory briefly went into safe mode just days after Hubble, also due to a glitch in one of its gyroscopes.More NASA coverage on Geek.com:NASA Shares Phone Wallpaper-Worthy Images of Feline NebulaReport: NASA Lost Apollo 11 Moon Dust, Lunar Rover PrototypeNASA Names Gamma-ray Constellations after Hulk, Einstein, Schrödinger’s Cat Stay on target NASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This WeekendScientists Discover Possible Interstellar Visitor last_img