The Hubble Space Telescope is closer to operating as normal after the agency was able to correct issues with a backup gyroscope. Hubble was pushed into safe mode on Oct. 5 after a gyroscope – used to help the telescope turn and lock on to new targets – stopped working, NASA said.
The gyroscopes have two modes: a high mode used when the spacecraft turns between targets, and a more precise low mode to help Hubble stay still and lock on to a target. A backup gyroscope within Hubble spun at “extremely high rotation rates,” NASA said, forcing them to execute a running restart, which involves turning off the gyro then quickly turning it back on again.
The Hubble team is working to resume science after Hubble entered safe mode due to 1 of 3 gyros failing. Analysis and testing on the backup gyro are ongoing to determine why it is not performing as expected. For more info: https://t.co/T72X4pjLPI
Following a series of maneuvers to clear any blockages on the gyroscope, the backup now spins at normal rates. NASA did not give a time frame for when Hubble could return to operations. The Hubble team must complete a series of engineering tests including moving between targets and precision pointing, NASA said. Hubble launched in April 1990, becoming the first major optical telescope placed in space.
Over the past 28 years, Hubble has streamed back key data on subjects such as dark matter and how planets form.
This article was originally published on USAToday.