Technical glitch hobbles Hubble Space Telescope

2006 by the European Space Agency shows one-half of the Hubble Space Telescope field of view with nine stars that are orbited by planets with periods of a few days. Planets so close to their stars with such short orbi

"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".

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, photographed during the first astronaut servicing mission in 1993. The spacecraft has a half dozen gyroscopes built in, and they were recently replaced during a servicing mission back 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 news came as a shock to the fans of the venerable space telescope, which has sent down jaw-dropping images and data to address cosmic conundrums ranging from planetary origins to the age of the universe.

Scientists are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance. The problem is that Hubble has only been operating with three of its gyroscopes up to now, the minimum needed for optimal functioning.

NASA's venerable Hubble Space Telescope is in safe mode after the failure of one of its gyros and a problem with another, but the agency said this specific problem did not put the orbiting observatory in jeopardy.

But when the telescope's operators switched the instrument to running on all three enhanced gyroscopes, one wasn't working quite as well as it should have been.

"The plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain". Staff at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance.

The Hubble telescope has three pairs of two gyroscopes, with each pair consisting of a primary and back-up gyroscope. That extended lifetime is something the astronomical community "wants desperately", she added.

Astronomers have been hoping that Hubble will continue to operate long enough to cover the transition to NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope.

'We'll work through the issues and be back'.

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