Hubble Space Telescope Returns to Action After Gyroscope Glitch

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Hubble has a total of six gyroscopes, three of which need to be functional for the scope to work at maximum efficiency.

After its remaining backup gyroscopes malfunctioned, the Hubble Space Telescope went into safe mode while scientists from ground control figure out what to do next.

Last week, the space telescope's operations team commanded Hubble to perform numerous maneuvers and switched the gyroscope between different operational modes, which successfully cleared what was believed to be blockage between components inside the gyroscope that produced the excessively high rate values, NASA said.

Those observations were of a distant star-forming galaxy called DSF2237B-1 and were taken in infrared wavelengths using the Wide Field Camera 3 instrument. However, it did not cause concern because the spacecraft is equipped with six gyros, three of which are meant to be in storage for situations like this.

The Hubble Space Telescope has returned to "normal operations".

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Unfortunately, two other gyros failed in the past, leaving one final gyro in storage. Such devices are needed to keep the telescope in the right direction during observations. Now, it seems that everything is working splendidly and NASA is comfortable in announcing that Hubble is back to normal.

The Hubble Space Telescope is once again keeping an eye on the sky. Mission team members worked to recruit a backup gyroscope but had trouble doing so, because the gyro returned anomalous readings-specifically, it measured rotation rates that were higher than the actual ones.

"Late Friday, the team began the process to restore the scientific instruments to standard operating status", the space agency added. When that final backup gyro malfunctioned, NASA had to turn the Hubble Space Telescope into safe mode.

The space agency also identified an issue in the pointing and orientation of the spacecraft. NASA will continue to observe and fine-tune the performance of the gyroscope configuration as necessary.