NASA's Hubble Space Telescope resumes normal operations after gyroscope fixed

Hubble Space Telescope Returns to Action After Gyroscope Glitch

Hubble Space Telescope Returns to Action After Gyroscope Glitch

It's been a good month for NASA's fix team as engineers also got the Chandra X-Ray Observatory back online after fixing a similar, but less severe, backup gyroscope issue on that spacecraft.

The Hubble Space Telescope is back from the dead more than three tense weeks after it suffered an operational breakdown while carrying out its mission to study and record the distant stars and galaxies of the universe.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Hubble Space Telescope has resumed observations after a faulty gyroscope, a device that helps the spacecraft determine orientation, was fixed.

NASA said last week that Hubble was nearing normal operations; over the weekend NASA announced that normal operations had resumed.

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What Happened To The Hubble Space Telescope?

However, it did not cause concern because the spacecraft is equipped with six gyros, three of which are meant to be in storage for situations like this. Two Hubble gyros had previously conked out, so the October 5 failure eliminated the scope's margin of error. The team then installed additional safeguards on the spacecraft in case the excessive rate values return, although this is not anticipated.

Hubble's gyroscopes are a key element of the telescope's pointing control system, a collection of components that determine where the telescope is pointing at any given time. However, the backup incorrectly returned rotation rates that were far in excess of the actual rates.

Although the powerful telescope's human operators successfully activated a backup gyro the next day, that device returned incorrect rotation rates. If the backup had continued to misbehave, the mission team likely would have gone to one-gyro mode, with the other functioning gyroscope in reserve as a backup. Spacewalking shuttle astronauts replaced all six in 2009. Engineers tested the spare gyro in various return maneuvers and operating modes before activation.

To clear the problem, NASA performed "running restarts" on the gyro while putting Hubble through turn manoeuvres (yes, pedants, "turn it off and turn it back on again was a small simplification for a headline, but it wasn't untrue)". But Chandra bounced back last Sunday (Oct. 21), after its handlers established a new gyroscope configuration.

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