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Hubble Space Telescope almost ready for action again



  Hubble Space Telescope back in service

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which launched into orbit in 1990.

Credit: NASA

It looks like NASA's famous Hubble Space Telescope has recovered The Observatory went offline more than two weeks ago.

On October 5, Hubble went into a protective "safe mode" after one of his orientation-preserving gyroscopes failed. Members of the mission team attempted to recruit a replacement gyroscope, but this instrument refused to behave and returned anomalous values.

However, a series of troubleshooting activities in the past week have stalled the balky Gyro, NASA officials said today (October 22). The mission team just has to do a few more tests to make sure everything is fixed. [The Hubble Space Telescope: A 25th Anniversary Photo Celebration]

"The Hubble Operations team plans to conduct a series of tests to examine the performance of the gyroscope in conditions similar to routine exams, such as moving to targets, locking to a target, and running of precision targets, "wrote NASA officials in a Hubble update. "With these technical tests completed, Hubble is expected to return to normal scientific operations soon."

Hubble has a total of six gyroscopes, all of which were replaced by spacewalking astronauts during a May 2009 maintenance mission. It consists of a wheel encased in a sealed cylinder at a constant speed of 1

9,200 rpm. This cylinder floats in thick liquid (and is actually called float).

"These gyros have two modes – high and low," NASA officials said in the same statement. "High mode is a coarse mode used to measure high RPMs as the spacecraft swings across the sky from one target to the next." Low mode is a precision mode to measure finer rotations when the spacecraft is on The target is locked in place and must remain very long. "

In order to work with maximum efficiency, the telescope requires three working gyroscopes, but it can do with only one, if necessary, NASA officials said.

Three of Hubble's gyros are out of service with the October 5 failure. The backup gyroscope, which members of the mission team are trying to bring online, has been shut down for more than 7.5 years. So the rust he showed at the start on 6th October – reporting unusually high rpm – might not be surprising.

Hubble's handlers restarted the backup gyro on October 16, but that did not provide any significant benefits. Then, two days later, they ordered the telescope to turn several times in opposite directions to remove blockages that could cause the gyola's strange values.

And that seems to have been the purpose.

"After the October 18 maneuvers, the team noted a significant reduction in high rates that allowed rates to be measured in low mode for a short time," NASA officials wrote. "On Oct. 19, the Hubble operation team ordered additional maneuvers and gyro-mode switches that apparently solved the problem, and the gyro rates now look normal in both high and low modes."

Hubble, a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency launched into orbit in April 1990 aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Spacewalk astronauts have repeatedly maintained and upgraded the telescope, performing five missions between December 1993 and May 2009.

Mike Wall's book on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life, Outside is published on November 13 by Grand Central Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us @SpaceTotcom or Facebook . Originally published on Space.com .


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