NASA's Chandra Observatory back in action

Mindy Sparks
October 18, 2018

Recently, the Chandra X-ray Observatory switched to the safe mode and stopped its entire science operations for a few days, following to the shutdown of Hubble because of the failure of a gyroscope. The telescope is named after the Nobel Prize-winning Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

"The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra's gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that, in turn, led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum".

It was due to an issue in one of the orientation-maintaining gyroscopes that the Chandra observatory went into the safe mode.

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory went into Safe Mode on October 10.

While in Safe Mode, Chandra's instruments move into a safe configuration, where important hardware is protected, the spacecraft orients so that its solar panels get the optimal amount of sunlight, and the craft's mirrors point away from the sun. However, the agency came to an end after evaluating date from the transition that Chandra's scientific devices are sound and safe. The cause of the safe mode transition (possibly involving a gyroscope) is under investigation, and we will post more information when it becomes available.

"Chandra is 19 years old, which is well beyond the original design lifetime of 5 years", NASA explains. In the year 2001, the space agency had extended Chandra's lifetime to further ten years.

However, the agency looks confident that the telescope can resume doing its normal operations, however, and expects it to be capable of doing all the operations out n forefront science for a lot more years in the coming future. First, news broke that the legendary Hubble space telescope has been forced to enter a safe mode in order to diagnose an issue with its gyroscopes.

Currently, scientists are performing analyses and tests to make it out what options were available to enable the gyro to operational performance.

There are also hopeful noises coming out of NASA's Hubble team. It's one of four observatories in NASA's Great Observatory program, which also includes the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

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