Hubble in safe mode after gyro failure

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

On their last servicing mission in May 2009, astronauts replaced all six of Hubble's gyroscopes.

"Built with multiple redundancies, Hubble had six new gyros installed during Servicing Mission-4 in 2009".

"Mission experts are taking steps to return Hubble to great science", the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said in a tweet.

The telescope, which travels the Earth at about five miles per second - equivalent to driving from America's East to West Coast in just 10 minutes - faces out to space to take pictures of planets, stars and galaxies to help scientists learn about the solar system. The third one hasn't been performing at the level required for operations, NASA said. The problem is that Hubble has only been operating with three of its gyroscopes up to now, the minimum needed for optimal functioning.

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.

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NASA scientists are desperately trying to fix the Hubble Space Telescope, which is now pointing the wrong way because of a technical fault.

Should engineers conclude that the enhanced gyro can't be used, leaving only two, controllers plan to shift to an alternative mode that allows the spacecraft to operate with just a single gyro.

NASA said staff at the Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute were conducting tests and analysis to get the gyro working again. "Which the Astro community wants desperately".

"While reduced-gyro mode offers less sky coverage at any particular time, there is relatively limited impact on the overall scientific capabilities".

"If the outcome of this investigation results in recovery of the malfunctioning gyro, Hubble will resume science operations in its standard three-gyro configuration", NASA said in a statement on Monday. "We'll work through the issues and be back", she wrote. "Very stressful weekend. Right now [the Hubble Space Telescope] is in safe mode while we figure out what to do".

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