Thu. Oct 6th, 2022

Hubble Space Telescope is having serious problems

The Hubble Space Telescope is having problems with one of the gyroscopes holding it in position and has been in emergency mode since Friday. NASA engineers are working to solve the problem and resume science operations.

Hubble Space Telescope's no scientific observations as of Friday. The reason for this is the failure of one of the gyroscopesów, making the machine unable to point in the right direction during observations. Mission controllers are currently investigating the problem and looking for ways toóinto its solutions.

Hubble telescope’and it is one of the most important instrumentsóin science in astronomy ever created. It was launched into orbit around the Earth in 1990 and has been delighting us with the photographs it has taken of the far reaches of space ever since. Many of the observations made with the telescope proved groundbreaking and helped astronomers better understand the nature of the Universe.

During these nearly 30 years of operation, the telescope has already undergone five servicing missions. The first took place just three years after launch. Six gyroscopes have been mounted on board the machineów and problems with them have been before. The last servicing mission took place in 2009, and during that mission all gyroscopes were replaced. Due to the completed flight programóIn the shuttleóin 2011, service missions will be no more. Since then, the telescope has had to do without servicing. All problems must be handled remotely or not at all.

Currently the machine is in emergency mode. The telescope is set in a stable configuration, dopóUnless ground control corrects the problem and restores theóThose missions to normal operation. During normal operation, Hubble uses three gyroscopiców to orient to a target in the sky.

Of the gyroscopes replaced during the last servicing missionów only three were operational. By Friday. Currently, Hubble is left with only two functional gyroscopes. After Friday’s failure, engineers próbowali to launch one of the previously stalled gyroscopesów, but it turned out not to work properly. Nevertheless, specialists are not giving up and will continue to try to fix the malfunctioning gyroscope.

– Don’t worry, Hubble has many more great years ahead of it – said Kenneth Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, który operates Hubble'a. But not everyone is convinced about it. If the próba resumption of proper operation of the third gyro fails, the orbiting observatory will stop performing scheduled observations. In the event of failure, experts are considering leaving the telescope on one gyro to spare the other operating one, which is expected to extend the life of the Hubble telescope’a.

Of course, such an operation will significantly reduce the capabilities of the telescope, but róhe difference between two working gyroscopes and one is small, as Rachel Osten, deputy mission director of the Hubble Space Telescope, wrote on Twitter'a. The decision to use only one gyroscope „buys a lot of extra observing time, whichóhe astronomical community desperately needs” – added.

In principle, observations can be made with a single gyro. This imposes some limitations on the selection of parts of the sky on which theóone can look at any time. In this sense, it is not a disaster. The telescope will still be useful, but stripped of some of its functionality.