Hubble in trouble: space telescope out of action as gyroscope fails

Hubble in trouble: space telescope out of action as gyroscope fails

Normally, Hubble requires three gyroscopes to stabilize its orientation and function properly. Right now HST is in safe mode while we figure out what to do. Scientists had already planned to reduce Hubble to using only a single gyroscope at a time once it was down to three, that being meant to prolong the space telescope's lifespan for as long as possible.

IN SPACE - MAY 13: In this handout from NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope is grappled to Space Shuttle Atlantis STS-125 by the shuttle's Canadian-built remote manipulator system May 13, 2009 in Space.

If the problematic gyroscope can't be successfully brought back online - and if the most recent failure proves permanent - Hubble may be forced to operate on a single gyroscope for the foreseeable future.

Denser pockets of gas and dust, however, can resist this erosion for longer. "At any given time, Hubble needs three of its six gyroscopes operating to ensure optimal efficiency", NASA says.

Responding to a claim that the safe mode was "scary news for the most famous telescope in history", Dr Osten downplayed the issues.

Hubble, which is in low Earth orbit just 340 miles above the planet, was launched on board the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990.

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"We'll work through the issues and be back", she promised. The team is now working to bring another gyro online, but Hubble may be limited in what it can do going forward.

Osten said, 'The plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain. "Which the Astro community wants desperately".

For now, Hubble's still the star of the show, so let's hope it can pull through.

Astronomers use the orbiting observatory to peer deep into the cosmos, revealing faraway solar systems as well as galaxies and black holes.

Hubble has the pointing accuracy of.007 arc seconds, which is like being able to shine a laser beam focused on Franklin D. Roosevelt's head on a dime roughly 200 miles away. That way, Hubble has a longer total lifespan.

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