Uh oh. Hubble's Having Gyro Problems Again

Hubble Space Telescope
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope flies with Earth in the background after a 2002 servicing mission. Credit: NASA.

The Hubble Space Telescope has gone through its share of gyroscopes in its 34-year history in space. Astronauts replaced the gyros during the last servicing mission in 2009, bringing it back up to six (three with three spares), but they only last so long. Last week, HST went into safe mode because one of the gyros experienced fluctuations in power. NASA paused the telescope’s science operations today to investigate the fluctuations and perhaps come up with a fix.

With this one gyro experiencing problems, only two of the gyros remain fully operational. HST works best with three gyros, and so engineers are working to understand the issue and hopefully figure out a way to fix it remotely. However, several years ago, engineers figured out a way to still conduct science operations with only a single gyro.

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Hubble’s First Picture After Returning to Service. The Telescope is Fully Operational Again with Three Working Gyros

Hubble's first image after returning to service is of a field of galaxies in the constellation Pegasus. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Shapley (UCLA)
Hubble's first image after returning to service is of a field of galaxies in the constellation Pegasus. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Shapley (UCLA)

The Hubble Space Telescope is a hero in the astronomy world. And when it suffered a malfunctioning gyro on October 5th, it took a heroic effort on the part of the Hubble team to get it working again. Now we have Hubble’s first picture after its return to service.
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