NASA addressing problems with Hubble and Chandra space telescopes

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — As one group of engineers continues to diagnose a gyro drawback that has sidelined the Hubble House Telescope, one other is coping with an issue that has put operations of one other giant area observatory on maintain.

In an announcement Oct. 12, NASA stated the Chandra X-Ray Observatory entered a secure mode on the morning of Oct. 10. That secure mode interrupts scientific observations and places the spacecraft right into a steady configuration.

NASA stated the reason for the Chandra secure mode is below investigation, and may very well be resulting from an issue with one of many spacecraft’s gyroscopes. “Evaluation of accessible information signifies the transition to secure mode was regular habits for such an occasion,” the company said. “All programs functioned as anticipated and the scientific devices are secure.”

Chandra is among the 4 unique “Nice Observatories” developed by NASA to carry out astronomy throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. Chandra was launched by the shuttle in 1999 for what was initially a five-year mission, later prolonged to 10.

NASA additionally offered an replace Oct. 12 on the standing of one other of the Nice Observatories, the Hubble House Telescope. Hubble has been in a secure mode since Oct. 5 when certainly one of its gyros failed and one other was not “performing on the stage required for operations,” the company stated Oct. 8.

Hubble stays in its secure mode as engineers proceed to research the issue with the gyro not performing as anticipated. NASA stated the gyro is reporting rotation charges “orders of magnitude increased than they really are,” though it did seem like correctly monitoring the telescope’s actions.

This drawback most impacts Hubble when it’s a “precision” mode when it’s used to measure very small actions, akin to when telescope is locked onto a selected goal it’s observing. “The extraordinarily excessive charges presently being reported exceed the higher restrict of the gyro on this low mode, stopping the gyro from reporting the spacecraft’s small actions,” NASA defined.

An anomaly board is learning the issue, together with methods to deal with the issue utilizing floor programs. The company didn’t give a schedule for the board to carry out that work.

That evaluation is essential since Hubble usually operates with three gyros. The spacecraft is provided with six, which had been changed on the ultimate shuttle servicing mission in 2009. Three of these six have now failed, together with the one which failed final week.

With one of many three remaining ones not performing as anticipated, Hubble can’t be operated in its typical three-gyro mode. It’s attainable, although, to function the spacecraft with only a singly gyro, and NASA stated it would achieve this if the malfunctioning gyro can’t be mounted.

Shifting to one-gyro operations will “nonetheless present wonderful science properly into the 2020s,” NASA stated, however acknowledged that it might function at “barely decrease effectivity” in that mode. Some astronomers are involved that the reduced-gyro mode might adversely have an effect on some kinds of observations, like photo voltaic system objects, that require the precision of three-gyro operations.

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