The Hubble Space Telescope is now operating in safe mode, with all science operations suspended, after one of the three gyroscopes used to aim the telescope failed on Friday 5 October. Unfortunately, that could take weeks to accomplish, which means the telescope will stay in safe mode until the team is able to troubleshoot the gyroscope. 5 after one of three gyros actively being used to orient the spacecraft malfunctioned.
"Safe mode puts the telescope into a stable configuration until ground control can correct the issue and return the mission to normal operation", it said.
After rumors of mission downtime began circulating on Twitter, Dr. Rachel Osten of the Hubble team confirmed that something is wrong with the telescope's gyroscopes, which it uses for orientation. The remaining three available for use are technically enhanced, and, therefore, are expected to have significantly longer operational lives.
While the telescope is not expected to be at risk of being permanently out of order, two of the four gyroscopes used to direct the telescope towards its targets in the sky have failed. Very stressful weekend. Right now HST is in safe mode while we figure out what to do.
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Hubble is now down to two working gyroscopes and needs at least three for optimal operations but it can continue to provide observations with just one functioning gyroscope.
Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since its mission began in 1990 and helped publish more than 15,000 scientific papers.
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.
Two gyros of the same type had already failed.
Hubble has been orbiting Earth since 1990, and in those decades, it has overhauled our knowledge of the universe around us. As per NASA the gyro that was unsuccessful last week had been manifesting end of life performance for a time span of a year and its collapse was not unanticipated. "Everybody said OK, no big surprise, we've been expecting that for a year, let's turn on the gyro that was off at the time to get back onto science operations".
Three of the gyros are older models that have a history of trouble after 50,000 hours or so of service. These six gyroscopes were replaced during a 2009 fix mission to the telescope.