The Hubble telescope is out of order due to breakage

The Hubble telescope is out of order due to breakage

The Hubble telescope is out of order due to breakage

For now, NASA hasn't offered any timeframe on when can we expect Hubble Space Telescope to come back into operation.

At the moment, engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute are running tests and analyses to know what options they have to recover the gyro "to operational performance".

If needed, the Hubble Space Telescope can operate using just one gyroscope; and, as we saw with the Kepler Space Telescope, which lost the second of its four reaction wheels in 2013, a space telescope can continue to be useful even after it loses its ability to point effectively.

But the glitch underscores that the 2.4-metre Hubble, perhaps the most iconic space observatory in history, will eventually die. The space shuttle Atlantis' mission is to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope in order to extend its working life.

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

NASA became aware of the issue last Friday when a gyro, already displaying "end of life" behavior, went out of action.

Now one of the remaining three isn't working as expected, leaving Hubble with just two working gyros and it needs at least three for optimal operations.

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Hubble has carried a total of six gyroscopes - three standard and three enhanced - since astronauts installed them during a spacewalk in 2009, typically using three at once. The enhanced gyros are estimated to last around 14 years.

The telescope's non-essential systems have been turned off - and all science observations are on hold.

Two of those enhanced gyros are now running. "We'll work through the issues and be back", she wrote. That gyro, which had been powered down, is not "performing at the level required for operations", according to spacecraft telemetry after it was commanded to turn on.

The largest space telescope Hubble has failed due to breakage.

"If the outcome indicates that the gyro is not usable, Hubble will resume science operations in an already defined "reduced-gyro" mode that uses only one gyro".

While NASA says that reduced-gyro mode would have "relatively limited impact on the overall scientific capabilities", some astronomers are concerned that the reduced-gyro mode could adversely affect some types of observations, such as of solar system objects, that require the precision of three-gyro operations.

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