Hubble Space Telescope back to 'normal operations,' NASA says

  29 October 2018    Read: 1288
Hubble Space Telescope back to

The Hubble Space Telescope is once again keeping an eye on the sky, AP reports. 

The device “returned to normal operations late Friday, Oct. 26, and completed its first science observations on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 2:10 AM EDT,” NASA revealed in a weekend news release, adding that the telescope observed a galaxy with the catchy name of DSF2237B-1-IR.

Hubble had been experiencing problems with a gyroscope. Such devices are needed to keep the telescope in the right direction during observations.

"A gyro is a device that measures the speed at which the spacecraft is turning, which is necessary to help Hubble turn and lock on to new targets," according to the space agency.

NASA shared news of the Hubble trouble on Oct. 8.

“On [Oct. 5,] the Hubble Space Telescope went into safe mode due to a failed gyro,” NASA said at the time.

The space agency said it activated a backup gyroscope on Oct. 6, but another issue arose: the device “incorrectly returned rotation rates that were far in excess of the actual rates.”

The Saturday release explained that during the prior week, an operations team ordered the telescope to move in different ways “and switched the gyro between different operational modes, which successfully cleared what was believed to be blockage between components inside the gyro that produced the excessively high rate values.”

They also checked to see that the device was secure before adding more safeguards in case the high rotation rates happen again, NASA shared.

The team wasn’t done there, though.

“On Thursday, the operations team conducted further maneuvers to collect gyro calibration data,” NASA said, adding that the telescope “performed activities similar to science observations” one day later.

More steps were taken that same day.

“Late Friday, the team began the process to restore the scientific instruments to standard operating status,” the space agency added. “Hubble successfully completed maneuvers to get on target for the first science observations, and the telescope collected its first science data since Oct. 5.”

Three of the Hubble's gyroscopes are fully working, according to NASA.

Launched in 1990, Hubble has had trouble with its gyroscopes before. Spacewalking shuttle astronauts replaced all six in 2009.

The telescope could work with as few as one or two gyroscopes, although that leaves little room for additional breakdowns.

 


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