Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Hubble trouble: Deep space telescope in ‘safe mode’ after mechanical fail

2006 by the European Space Agency shows one-half of the Hubble Space Telescope field of view with nine stars that are orbited by planets with periods of a few days. Planets so close to their stars with such short orbi Image Hubble's deep view of the sky has revealed an enormous number of galaxies
Sandy Nunez | 11 October, 2018, 03:28

The largest space telescope Hubble has failed due to breakage.

Astronomers have been hoping that Hubble will continue to operate long enough to cover the transition to NASA's next-generation James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA's 28-year-old eye on the cosmos is in safe mode after the failure of a gyroscope used to help aim the telescope at its imaging targets.

However, in the article issued by NASA this gyroscope has been exhibiting "end-of-life" behavior for a year, and the failure was no surprise, as two other gyros have also failed.

One of the telescope's most famous images is a portion of the Eagle Nebula, known as the "Pillars of Creation", which shows three columns of cold gas illuminated by light from a cluster of young stars.

Gyroscopes are needed to keep the 340-mile-high (540-kilometer-high) Hubble pointed in the right direction during observations.

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Now one of the remaining three isn't working as expected, leaving Hubble with just two working gyros and it needs at least three for optimal operations.

The device refused one of the gyros. As per NASA the gyro that was unsuccessful last week had been manifesting end of life performance for a time span of a year and its collapse was not unanticipated. This marks the third of those six gyroscopes to fail. After rumors of mission downtime began circulating on Twitter, Dr. Rachel Osten of the Hubble team confirmed that something is wrong with the telescope's gyroscopes, which it uses for orientation. NASA said that, while this option offers less sky coverage at any particular time, there is relatively limited impact on Hubble's overall scientific capabilities.

In a statement NASA allayed fears by saying the telescope can still carry out scientific operations with one gyro but that activities onboard the orbiter had been suspended to give engineers a chance to fix the fault.

NASA's preference, the post said, is to return Hubble to service in its standard three-gyro configuration.

Hubble is equipped with six gyros to precisely point the spacecraft, which were replaced in the final shuttle servicing mission in 2009.

She explained that there are plans in place to deal with the eventuality of the HST dropping down to a one-gyro mode when two remained. That gyro, which had been powered down, is not "performing at the level required for operations", according to spacecraft telemetry after it was commanded to turn on.