Hubble Space Telescope closer to resuming science operations, say NASA scientists


The team that manages the Hubble operations said it appears the problem is fixed, but NASA will run additional tests to ensure that the telescope is fixed before returning it to normal operations. As was explained by Ken Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the gyroscopes are used to measure the speed at which the spacecraft is turning, and are needed to help Hubble turn and lock on to new targets, and the Hubble team was optimistic the problem could be solved. Included within this post are some of my favorite images the Hubble Space Telescope has sent back.

Hubble is managed and operated at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. It's actually been offline for seven and a half years, and when NASA began using it once more, it was sending back awful information about how the Hubble was turning. But it doesn't seem like something you'd try on a space telescope.

The Hubble Space Telescope is expected to return to normal scientific operations soon, after its back-up gyroscope was brought into service, with engineers able to reduce unusually high rotation rates down to "within an expected range". Would that it were that easy, Crouse said.

On Oct. 18, the Hubble operations team commanded a series of spacecraft maneuvers, or turns, in opposite directions to attempt to clear any blockage that may have caused the float to be off-center and produce the exceedingly high rates. Then the team returned the spacecraft to normal pointing mode and applied a series of pre-tested software patches. "But we were trying to do very particular activities we thought would clear the problem".

The Hubble Space Telescope, responsible for countless breath-taking images of deep space and almost as many ground-breaking scientific discoveries, is sick.

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"NASA fixes Hubble gyroscope by turning it off and on again", Engadget stated Wednesday. "Someone flipped a switch on and off", USA Today followed. "I can understand that some people maybe took the easy way out".

'We're facing a very daunting prospect as a community.

The Hubble Space Telescope is an essential space instrument for astronomers, and it has played a key role in dozen of discoveries. Time magazine has a roundup of the 50 "best" photos taken by Hubble, though all are quite extraordinary in their own way, depending on one's interest in any particular corner of the universe.

The James Webb telescope will study infrared radiation in space but has been beleaguered with delays and errors that has seen the launch date pushed back to 2021.

Hubble is prized by the astronomical community, and observing time has to be carefully managed because of the high demand. With Hubble having only two working gyros, engineers turned to the telescope's last remaining gyro, held as a backup.