Hubble Telescope was set in safe mode due to severe damage

Image    The Whirlpool Galaxy is one of the most famous images Hubble captured

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has entered safe mode following a gyroscope failure, according to the space agency.

As a result, Hubble is in so-called safe mode with non-essential systems turned off, putting all science observations on hold.

Ground operators put the telescope into this stable configuration after one of the three active gyros that steadies and points the telescope failed. The 28-year-old Hubble Telescope has been key to NASA and independent research of space.

The Hubble telescope has three pairs of two gyroscopes, with each pair consisting of a primary and back-up gyroscope. Although science operations are expected to resume fairly soon, the current issues raise concerns about the future of the invaluable scientific instrument.

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. Another gyro failed. First step is try to bring back the last gyro, which had been off, and is being problematic'.

Hubble deputy mission head Rachel Osten, said, 'Very stressful weekend.

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NASA's preference, the post said, is to return Hubble to service in its standard three-gyro configuration.

More than 30 astronauts have flown to Hubble to deploy, upgrade and fix the observatory with the support of a human spaceflight and space shuttle staff. Thousands of astronomers from dozens of countries have used Hubble and analyzed its data to produce more than 15,000 peer reviewed papers to date. Its successor, the 6.5-metre James Webb Space Telescope, will not launch until 2021 at the earliest. Hubble uses its gyroscopes to keep itself aimed precisely at what astronomers are using it to observe.

All six of Hubble's gyroscopes were replaced by space station astronauts during a servicing mission in 2009, but only two of those are now functioning properly. Two others have previously failed, most recently in April. Hubble usually uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, but can continue to make scientific observations with just one.

"That doesn't mean we can't see the whole sky at some time during the year, we can", Sembach said. "We'll work through the issues and be back", she wrote.

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.

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