The Hubble Space Telescope has been sidelined by a serious pointing problem.
NASA announced Monday that one of Hubble’s gyroscopes failed last Friday. As a result, Hubble is in so-called safe mode with non-essential systems turned off. That means all science observations are on hold.
On Friday, the Hubble Space Telescope went into safe mode due to a failed gyro – used to keep the telescope precisely pointed for long periods. Mission experts are taking steps to return Hubble to great science. More updates will follow.
NASA says mission controllers are working to restore the 28-year-old telescope, which orbits about 570 kilometres above the Earth. Gyroscopes are needed to keep Hubble pointed in the right direction during observations.
Astronomers use the orbiting observatory to peer deeply into the cosmos, revealing faraway solar systems as well as galaxies and black holes.
One of its current projects is Beyond Ultra-deep Frontier Fields And Legacy Observations (BUFFALO), which will expand the space telescope’s view into regions that are adjacent to huge galaxy clusters it previously photographed and galaxy clusters that were photographed by NASA’s Spitzer space telescope.
Launched in 1990, Hubble has had trouble with its gyroscopes before.
Spacewalking shuttle astronauts replaced all six in 2009. The telescope could work with as few as one or two gyroscopes, although that leaves little room for additional breakdowns.
Source : cbc