After resolving a problem with an instrument that wasn’t functioning properly, NASA experts were able to restart the faltering Hubble Space Telescope. Since October 5th, when a vital component of steering hardware—essential to pointing the telescope—failured, the observatory has been in experimental mode. As a result, Hubble will once again be able to operate at its maximum capacity.
When measuring the speed at which Hubble is rotating in space, one of its gyroscopes malfunctioned on October 5th. As a result of the breakdown, only three of Hubble’s six gyros are currently operational. Just three of them are needed to accomplish Hubble’s mission, but NASA had problems getting one of the three functional gyros to work properly. In fact, it had been inactive for seven and a half years, and when NASA restarted its use of it, it was sending back horrible information on how the Hubble was rotating. The gyro discovered that Hubble was spinning at a much higher rate than it had been previously thought to be the case.
With two gyroscopes, Hubble would be limited in what it could see, but it could still operate. Even with two gyros, it doesn’t appear that NASA will be limited. The space agency noted that Hubble engineers briefly shut off the gyro before re-enabling it, according to a new update. That did not resolve the problem. Hubble was programmed to do many manoeuvres in the event that the gyro’s chamber was out of balance, just in case. Shortly thereafter, the gyro stopped projecting extraordinarily high rotation rates for Hubble. This looked to work.
As previously mentioned, the gyros consist of rotating wheels that rotate 19,200 times per minute inside a liquid-filled container. In this elaborate set-up, sensors in the chambers can detect minute movements in the spinning wheel and transmit the information to Hubble’s computer for analysis. Data like that is critical whenever Hubble needs a new target in the Solar System or beyond to keep focused.
Over the course of the telescope’s nearly three decades in orbit, all six of these instruments have been replaced. As a result of the Shuttle programme, astronauts were able to repair Hubble whenever it was necessary. That being the case, no vehicle is now available for the transportation of passengers to the spacecraft since the Space Shuttle has been retired. Because of this, NASA has to conduct repairs on the ground when something goes wrong.
The Hubble Space Telescope isn’t ready to go back to work yet. To confirm that the recently repaired gyro continues to function properly, NASA has started doing manoeuvres with the telescope. The gyro will also be put through its paces by the shuttle’s engineering team. If all goes well, Hubble will be able to resume its mission quickly.