NASA's iconic Hubble Space Telescope is on temporary pause in its scientific operations, and the space agency is working to restart it after it entered safe mode following an issue with its gyroscope. According to NASA, one of the three gyroscopes provided faulty readings, and the telescope entered safe mode on November 23. NASA's operation team is conducting tests to identify and characterise the gyro issue, aiming to find viable solutions.
The Hubble Space Telescope has been in operation for decades now, but the technology is ageing, and it is likely to go offline permanently. However, the present instruments on the telescope are stable and in good condition.
The three gyroscopes measure the telescope's turn rates and are vital to a system that ensures the telescope is pointing in a suitable direction. The telescope now waits for the new directions, and the science operations have been put on hold.
Previously, on November 13, the telescope went into safe mode, and the team recovered the spacecraft safely. The operation was then suspended and retrieved on November 21. However, the telescope went into safe mode this time and has remained so since then.
The Hubble Telescope must be reconfigured to operate with only one gyro. In the 2009 space shuttle service mission, six new gyros were installed, presently only three are functioning, including the one with irregularities.
Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has made fascinating discoveries that have aided scientists and researchers to understand the universe deeply. Hubble is NASA's most productive science project, with over 1.5 million observations and over 20,000 reports published on its discoveries.
Despite being outperformed by its more capable, the James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble continues contributing to vital scientific research. The space agency itself prefers Hubble over Webb.