Published: Mon, October 15, 2018
Science | By

NASAs Chandra telescope in safe mode due to glitch

NASAs Chandra telescope in safe mode due to glitch

It's been a bad couple weeks in space.

"Analysis of available data indicates the transition to safe mode was normal behavior for such an event", according to NASA. "If the outcome of this investigation results in recovery of the malfunctioning gyro, Hubble will resume science operations in its standard three-gyro configuration".

This illustration made available by NASA shows the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The rest of the spacecraft and its instruments are still fully functional and are expected to produce excellent science for years to come.

As Chandra's Twitter account reminded readers, the powerful X-ray telescope is getting up in age: "Chandra is 19 years old, which is well beyond the original design lifetime of 5 years".

Another telescope NASA stopped scientific work. Staff at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance.

Hubble remains in its safe mode as engineers continue to analyze the problem with the gyro not performing as expected. This past week, tests were conducted to assess the condition of that backup gyro. Normally, when fixed on an observation target, Hubble's gyros operate on low-mode.


According to experts, the problem may be related to the gyro telescope, but the final conclusions about the causes of the transition in a safe mode they will do after the scan completes. The extremely high rates now being reported exceed the upper limit of the gyro in this low mode, preventing the gyro from reporting the spacecraft's small movements.

Scientists are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance. Hubble went into hibernation last Friday due to a gyroscope failure.

Losing Chandra is even more of a blow to the astronomy community than losing Hubble.

"Science operations with Hubble have been suspended while NASA investigates the anomaly", the update reads. And the Curiosity rover's memory issues recently spurred mission team members to swap that robot over to its backup computer.

Chandra and Hubble aren't the only famous NASA spacecraft dealing with some issues. Engineers haven't communicated with the rover for four months.

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