Another NASA space telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, forced to shut down

Mindy Sparks
October 15, 2018

It's been a bad couple weeks in space. "The cause of the safe mode transition (possibly involving a gyroscope) is under investigation, and we will post more information when it becomes available".

As one group of engineers continues to diagnose a gyro problem that has sidelined the Hubble Space Telescope, another is dealing with a problem that has put operations of another large space observatory on hold.

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory has been monitoring the universe in high-energy light since 1999 and has recently entered a protective "safe mode".

"All systems worked properly, scientific instruments in security, wrote the Agency on October 12".

Both telescopes have their ... years, as Hubble is 28 years old, while the 19-year-old Chandra X-ray Observatory.

The problem facing Hubble and Chandra is one that limits the lifespans of pretty much all space-based telescopes: Their gyroscopes are breaking down.


In a separate release, NASA confirmed Hubble is still in safe mode.

NASA also provided an update October 12 on the status of another of the Great Observatories, the Hubble Space Telescope. This past week, tests were conducted to assess the condition of that backup gyro.

"Science operations with Hubble have been suspended while NASA investigates the anomaly", the update reads.

Because the gyro is reading rates of changes at a greater magnitude, it can't be used to monitor smaller changes. The extremely high rates now being reported exceed the upper limit of the gyro in this low mode, preventing the gyro from reporting the spacecraft's small movements. Hubble preferably uses three gyros at any given time to make the observatory as efficient as possible, and would work at slightly lower efficiency on only one gyro. The US space agency said that the glitch has occurred possibly due to the failure of the gyroscope.

Losing Chandra is even more of a blow to the astronomy community than losing Hubble.

To add to NASA's woes, its Mars rover Opportunity since June 10 when a dust storm kept its solar panels from getting sunlight. Earlier this week, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were forced to abort their mission to the space station just moments after launch, ejecting their Soyuz capsule from the rocket and executing an emergency "ballistic descent". Engineers haven't communicated with the rover for four months.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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