Hubble is still in safe mode, but the story is not over yet




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This photograph of April 25, 1990, provided by NASA shows the largest part of the gigantic Hubble space telescope because it is suspended in space by Discovery's Remote Manipulator System (RMS) after deploying part of its solar panels and antennas. . This was one of the first photos that NASA published on the 30th of April from the five-day STS-31 mission. The Hubble Space Telescope, one of NASA's award-winning glories, marks its 25th anniversary on Friday, April 24, 2015. With more than 1 million observations, including those of the most distant and oldest galaxies ever created by humanity, no man-made satellite touches as many ghosts or hearts as Hubble. (NASA via AP)

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is still in safe mode from Monday morning, as engineers try to diagnose and resolve a gyroscope that put the 25-year orbital observatory out of service on October 5.

At the moment, Hubble is not the only one that recovers. NASA & # 39; s Chandra X-ray observatory went into safe mode on October 10 after a failure where a gyroscope sent bad data to Chandra's onboard computer for 3 seconds. Using the bad data, the computer calculated an incorrect and apparently slightly alarming momentum for the telescope. The telescope automatically puts itself in safe mode, but NASA technicians say they switch to a backup gyro, while keeping the glitchy in reserve and uploading some flight software patches. Chandra points out normal and will return to science by the end of this week around October 20, as usual.

That is an impressive recovery for the 19-year space telescope, which is now good in its extensive mission. Space Shuttle Columbia, in a mission under the command of astronaut Eileen Collins, carried the X-ray observatory in orbit around the earth in 1999. Chandra became the third of NASA's four major observatories, alongside Hubble, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (which was the orbited in 2000) and the Spitzer Space Telescope, which still performs thermal infrared astronomy in a low earth orbit. Chandra's name means "moon" in Sanskrit and is also a tribute to astronomer Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

What do you do if the backup fails?

Hubble's gyroscope problem may not be easy to repair, but NASA says the telescope will somehow return to normal scientific operations. Hubble relies on his gyroscopes to measure the speed at which the telescope rotates; with data from three gyroscopes, the on-board computer of the telescope can control its orientation with incredible precision, but it can still work with one or two, albeit with a slightly more limited view of the sky.

When it went wrong last week, three of Hubble's six gyroscopes worked together to target the telescope and keep it on target. Two others had already failed and one was eliminated, kept in reserve in case of a malfunction. Then one of the three working gyroscopes failed.

"The failed gyroscope showed end-of-life behavior for about a year and its failure was not unexpected," NASA wrote a press release on 8 October. Engineers have activated the reserve gyro, but that too has failed – or at least, "space telemetry analysis indicated that it did not perform at the level required for operations," and according to the high standards of NASA, that is virtually failure.

In particular, the backup gyro reported that the telescope rotated much, much faster than it really was. "This is similar to a speedometer in your car that continuously shows that your speed is 100 miles per hour faster than it really is, it shows well when your car is accelerating or slowing down, and by how much, but the actual speed is inaccurate "The agency stated in an update of 12 October. That's why NASA Hubble put in safe mode, while technicians try to diagnose the problem and figure out what to do. If they find a way to fix the non-cooperative gyro – probably with a software patch – Hubble will go back to work with three gyroscopes and no backups. But if the problem can not be solved, Hubble will continue to work with one working gyro and one back-up.

In this image provided by NASA / JSC, the astronauts Steven L. Smith and John M. Grunsfeld are photographed during an extravehicular activity (EVA) during the Hubble maintenance mission of STS-103, conducted by Discovery. The Hubble Space Telescope, one of NASA's award-winning glories, marks its 25th anniversary on Friday, April 24, 2015. With more than 1 million observations, including those of the most distant and oldest galaxies ever created by humanity, no man-made satellite touches as many ghosts or hearts as Hubble. (NASA / JSC via AP)

Hubble's story is also about the Space Shuttle

The current set of gyroscopes has been on board since 2009, a farewell present from the last shuttle recovery mission to Hubble as a replacement for the original set of six. In 2005, hoping to extend the lifetime of Hubble's equipment and expand its mission, NASA switched off the telescope from three gyro's to just two, with two more as backups. This allowed Hubble to point out something less precise than with three gyroscopes, but still able to make very detailed astronomical observations. But then a gyro failed in 2007, and it turned out that the electric wires that drove the gyros engines were corroded, thanks to the oxygen-pressurized air that was used to store the thick liquid in which the gyros are hung. to pump. The replacement gyroscopes delivered in 2009 used nitrogen instead of oxygen, and engineers expected them to last much longer than the first batch.

As Kevin Anderton remarkedIf the space shuttle or a successor were still flying, a manned mission might be able to transport new gyro to Hubble or repair the existing one. Hubble's designers had the space shuttle in mind when they designed the telescope with relatively easily removable instruments designed for replacement by astronauts when conducting missions. Five total missions have done repairs or upgrades on Hubble from 1993 to 2009, but at the moment the options are quite limited and there is no real replacement for the space shuttle on the horizon. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon are both primarily focused on crew transportation: transporting astronauts to the Interational Space Station or, ultimately, others. Their designs so far do not seem to have the capacity to accommodate a crew in orbit around the earth for several days and support for a maintenance mission to Hubble, and they do not have the cargo hold of the shuttle or robotic arm.

The story of Hubble is intertwined with the Shuttle program in a number of interesting ways. The shuttle Challenger exploded during the launch in January 1986 and took the lives of the entire crew. NASA promptly started the rest of the shuttle fleet while a commission investigated the tragedy and the planned launch of Hubble was reduced to April 1990 in October 1986. After launch, the $ 1.5 billion telescope would have been an almost complete loss astronomy. if a shuttle mission was unable to install corrective optics. And a final mission in 2009, which removed this optics and replaced some of Hubble's instruments with upgraded versions, ran as long as the launch mission, due to the catastrophic loss of a Space Shuttle – this time Columbia. And now, with the shuttle program partially terminated due to the loss of Columbia, Hubble is on its own 540 km (340 miles) above solid ground.

It is nowhere near

Well, not entirely in itself; it has long-distance support from engineers here on earth who are actively working on finding solutions. And NASA technicians do not give up quickly with their scientific robots; NASA is still try to contact Opportunity and remain vigilant when the dust storm on Mars slowly disappears. NASA says that Hubble will send detailed images of the cosmos home in the coming years. But NASA says that will not happen in the coming years. Last week, astronomers first looked at a moon in orbit around an exoplanet, thanks to the 19-year space telescope. And Hubble has a decade or two left, if everything goes well, there can be many more such discoveries in store.

And if all goes well, it will be merged in 2021 by the James Webb Space Telescope. Unlike Hubble, Webb was not designed to service the shuttle and will run 1.5 million km (932,000 miles) away in a space space called the second Lagrange point, so far away from the earth that the gravity of the earth and the sun keep each other in balance. That distance would have brought James Webb out of the reach of even a space shuttle mission in the event of a problem – but the design of James Webb still contains a docking ring, just in case.

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This photograph of April 25, 1990, provided by NASA shows the largest part of the gigantic Hubble space telescope because it is suspended in space by Discovery's Remote Manipulator System (RMS) after deploying part of its solar panels and antennas. . This was one of the first photos that NASA published on the 30th of April from the five-day STS-31 mission. The Hubble Space Telescope, one of NASA's award-winning glories, marks its 25th anniversary on Friday, April 24, 2015. With more than 1 million observations, including those of the most distant and oldest galaxies ever created by humanity, no man-made satellite touches as many ghosts or hearts as Hubble. (NASA via AP)

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is still in safe mode from Monday morning, as engineers try to diagnose and resolve a gyroscope that put the 25-year orbital observatory out of service on October 5.

At the moment, Hubble is not the only one that recovers. NASA & # 39; s Chandra X-ray observatory went into safe mode on October 10 after a failure where a gyroscope sent bad data to Chandra's onboard computer for 3 seconds. Using the bad data, the computer calculated an incorrect and apparently slightly alarming momentum for the telescope. The telescope automatically puts itself in safe mode, but NASA technicians say they switch to a backup gyro, while keeping the glitchy in reserve and uploading some flight software patches. Chandra points out normal and will return to science by the end of this week around October 20, as usual.

That is an impressive recovery for the 19-year space telescope, which is now good in its extensive mission. Space Shuttle Columbia, in a mission under the command of astronaut Eileen Collins, carried the X-ray observatory in orbit around the earth in 1999. Chandra became the third of NASA's four major observatories, alongside Hubble, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (which was the orbited in 2000) and the Spitzer Space Telescope, which still performs thermal infrared astronomy in a low earth orbit. Chandra's name means "moon" in Sanskrit and is also a tribute to the astronomer Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

What do you do if the backup fails?

Hubble's gyroscope problem may not be easy to repair, but NASA says the telescope will somehow return to normal scientific operations. Hubble relies on his gyroscopes to measure the speed at which the telescope rotates; with data from three gyroscopes, the on-board computer of the telescope can control its orientation with incredible precision, but it can still work with one or two, albeit with a slightly more limited view of the sky.

When it went wrong last week, three of Hubble's six gyroscopes worked together to target the telescope and keep it on target. Two others had already failed and one was eliminated, kept in reserve in case of a malfunction. Then one of the three working gyroscopes failed.

"The failed gyroscope had end-of-life behavior for about a year and its failure was not unexpected," NASA wrote in a press release on 8 October. Engineers have activated the reserve gyro, but it has failed too – or at least, "satellite satellite telemetry analysis indicated that it did not perform at the level required for operations," and according to the high standards of NASA, that is almost a failure. .

In particular, the backup gyro reported that the telescope rotated much, much faster than it really was. "This is similar to a speedometer in your car that continuously shows that your speed is 100 miles per hour faster than it really is, it shows well when your car accelerates or slows down, and by how much, but the actual speed is inaccurate , "the agency explained in an update of 12 October. That's why NASA Hubble put in safe mode, while technicians try to diagnose the problem and figure out what to do. If they find a way to fix the non-cooperative gyro – probably with a software patch – Hubble will go back to work with three gyroscopes and no backups. But if the problem can not be solved, Hubble will continue to work with one working gyro and one back-up.

In this image provided by NASA / JSC, the astronauts Steven L. Smith and John M. Grunsfeld are photographed during an extravehicular activity (EVA) during the Hubble maintenance mission of STS-103, conducted by Discovery. The Hubble Space Telescope, one of NASA's award-winning glories, marks its 25th anniversary on Friday, April 24, 2015. With more than 1 million observations, including those of the most distant and oldest galaxies ever created by humanity, no man-made satellite touches as many ghosts or hearts as Hubble. (NASA / JSC via AP)

Hubble's story is also about the Space Shuttle

The current set of gyroscopes has been on board since 2009, a farewell present from the last shuttle recovery mission to Hubble as a replacement for the original set of six. In 2005, hoping to extend the lifetime of Hubble's equipment and expand its mission, NASA switched off the telescope from three gyro's to just two, with two more as backups. This allowed Hubble to point out something less precise than with three gyroscopes, but still able to make very detailed astronomical observations. But then a gyro failed in 2007, and it turned out that the electric wires that drove the gyros engines were corroded, thanks to the oxygen-pressurized air that was used to store the thick liquid in which the gyros are hung. to pump. The replacement gyroscopes delivered in 2009 used nitrogen instead of oxygen, and engineers expected them to last much longer than the first batch.

As Kevin Anderton pointed out, a manned mission, if the space shuttle or a successor were still flying, could possibly transport new gyro to Hubble or repair the existing one. Hubble's designers had the space shuttle in mind when they designed the telescope with relatively easily removable instruments designed for replacement by astronauts when conducting missions. Five total missions have done repairs or upgrades on Hubble from 1993 to 2009, but at the moment the options are quite limited and there is no real replacement for the space shuttle on the horizon. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon are both primarily focused on crew transportation: transporting astronauts to the Interational Space Station or, ultimately, others. Their designs so far do not seem to have the ability to house a crew in orbit around the earth and support them for a maintenance mission to Hubble, and they do not have the cargo space or robotic arm of the shuttle.

The story of Hubble is intertwined with the Shuttle program in a number of interesting ways. The shuttle Challenger exploded during the launch in January 1986 and took the lives of the entire crew. NASA promptly started the rest of the shuttle fleet while a commission investigated the tragedy and the planned launch of Hubble was reduced to April 1990 in October 1986. After launch, the $ 1.5 billion telescope would lose almost a total loss for astronomy have been as a shuttle mission was unable to install corrective optics. And a final mission in 2009, which removed this optics and replaced some of Hubble's instruments with upgraded versions, ran as long as the launch mission, due to the catastrophic loss of a Space Shuttle – this time Columbia. And now, with the shuttle program partially terminated due to the loss of Columbia, Hubble is on its own 540 km (340 miles) above solid ground.

It is nowhere near

Well, not entirely in itself; it has long-distance support from engineers here on earth who are actively working on finding solutions. And NASA technicians do not give up quickly with their scientific robots; NASA is still trying to contact Opportunity and remain vigilant when the dust storm on Mars slowly disappears. NASA says that Hubble will send detailed images of the cosmos home in the coming years. But NASA says that will not happen in the coming years. Last week, astronomers first looked at a moon in orbit around an exoplanet, thanks to the 19-year space telescope. And Hubble has a decade or two left, if everything goes well, there can be many more such discoveries in store.

And if all goes well, it will be merged in 2021 by the James Webb Space Telescope. Unlike Hubble, Webb was not designed to service the shuttle and will run 1.5 million km (932,000 miles) away in a space space called the second Lagrange point, so far away from the earth that the gravity of the earth and the sun keep each other in balance. That distance would have put James Webb far out of the reach of even a space shuttle mission in the event of a problem – but the design of James Webb still contains a docking ring, just in case.


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