Another NASA Space Telescope Shuts Down In Orbit

Posted: Oct 14 2018, 2:59pm CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Another NASA Space Telescope Shuts Down in Orbit
Artist's impression of Chandra X-ray Observatory. Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO

Chandra X-ray Observatory entered safe mode on Wednesday due to a gyroscope failure.

Less than a week after the Hubble Space Telescope went offline, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory also suffered a mechanical failure in the orbit. The breakdown led the spacecraft to trigger an automatic safe mode and caused it to suspend science observations.

Safe mode occur when a spacecraft experiences some kind of trouble. As a result, it automatically takes measures to ensure its safety. During the safe mode, all the science instruments aboard spacecraft stop functioning and remain in the state until ground control correct the issue.

Researchers suggest that Chandra entered safe mode due to a failed gyroscope. The same problem was also identified in Hubble telescope on October 5. Hubble team turned on a backup gyro on the spacecraft following the problem and also conducted tests to assess the condition of that backup device. However, the replacement did not perform as expected.

It is not the first time that 28-year-old Hubble is struggling. The iconic telescope has had trouble with its gyroscopes before.

“During Servicing Mission 4 in 2009, astronauts installed six new gyros on Hubble. Three gyros have since failed after achieving or exceeding the average runtime for a Hubble gyro. When fewer than three operational gyros remain, Hubble will continue to make scientific observations in a previously developed and tested mode that uses just one gyro in order to maximize the observatory’s lifetime.” NASA statement said.

Gyroscopes is a spinning wheel set that helps telescopes stay in their orbit. Both mission teams are still working to understand why space telescopes went into safe mode so that the instruments resume normal scientific operations.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched into space 19 years ago aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. With unrivaled X-ray vision, Chandra has enabled astronomers to investigate complex phenomena such comets, black holes, dark matter and dark energy. Both Hubble and Chandra are part of NASA's Great Observatories series. The project aims to revolutionize our understanding of the universe through its high-resolution X- ray images.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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