NASA's Hubble completes first science operation after 3-week hiatus

James Marshall
November 1, 2018

"Last week, the operations team commanded Hubble to perform numerous maneuvers, or turns, and switched the gyro between different operational modes, which successfully cleared what was believed to be blockage between components inside the gyro that produced the excessively high rate values", NASA officials wrote in Saturday's update.

Astroboffins the world over drew a collective sigh of relief to hear that the Hubble Space Telescope has been formally returned to service.

Hubble now has three fully functional gyros and continues to operate well past its original mission.

The observatory had been hibernating since October 6th, after a backup gyroscope started behaving abnormally.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Hubble Space Telescope has resumed observations after a faulty gyroscope, a device that helps the spacecraft determine orientation, was fixed. This info is vital for ensuring that the observatory stays on target and knows how to shift its gaze from one celestial body to another.

Launched in 1990, Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations of stars, galaxies, black holes and other celestial targets. On October 5th, one of the gyroscopes stopped working. The spacecraft was placed in safe mode when one of the remaining three gyroscopes, turned on after having been held in reserve, reported rates far higher than actual ones.

Hubble's pointing system was compromised earlier this month when an old gyroscope finally failed. Now, it seems that everything is working splendidly and NASA is comfortable in announcing that Hubble is back to normal. He says that because the gyroscope had been sitting inactive for several years, it may have developed an air bubble in its fluid or a stiff wire in one of its power leads.

On Thursday, the operations team conducted further maneuvers to collect gyro calibration data.

After a series of key tests to confirm that the gyro was stable, the team installed additional safeguards in case the excessive rotation rates return, "although this is not anticipated", according to NASA.

Now it's back to business as usual. But it's not all good news.

"The team expects the telescope will continue to yield incredible discoveries well into the next decade, enabling it to work alongside the James Webb Space Telescope", the space agency added.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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