NASA’s Chandra telescope in safe mode due to glitch

15 Octobre, 2018, 01:36 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Another NASA space telescope shuts down in orbit

Barely a week after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode, its Chandra mission has also suffered a glitch possibly due to the failure of the gyroscope, the USA space agency said.

It's been a bad couple weeks in space. In a tweet Dr. Rachel Osten, Dy mission head for the Hubble Telescope has expressed the stress under which the team is working with both gyros out of action. "The cause of the safe mode transition (possibly involving a gyroscope) is under investigation, and we will post more information when it becomes available".

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

As Chandra's Twitter account reminded readers, the powerful X-ray telescope is getting up in age: "Chandra is 19 years old, which is well beyond the original design lifetime of 5 years". Because of this, the telescope is temporarily stopped work and was translated in safe mode. Upon powering on the third enhanced gyro that had been held in reserve, analysis of spacecraft telemetry indicated that it was not performing at the level required for operations. NASA doesn't yet know what triggered the space telescope to enter safe mode, but says it may be due to a gyroscope issue.

It is the second technical problem that affects an American space telescope, as for some days something similar has happened to Hubble, which, having lost one of its orientation gyros, has also been forced to operate in a "safe mode", stopping the observations sky's. As a result, Hubble remains in safe mode. This past week, tests were conducted to assess the condition of that backup gyro.

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If the NASA team is successful in solving the problem, Hubble will return to normal, three-gyro operations.

Because the gyro is reading rates of changes at a greater magnitude, it can't be used to monitor smaller changes.

Hubble and Chandra aren't the only spacecraft in trouble.

Hubble is managed and operated at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Two of those enhanced gyros are now running. Hubble usually uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, but can continue to make scientific observations with just one. The space agency's Mars rovers Opportunity and Curiosity too have faced issues recently. Engineers haven't communicated with the rover for four months.

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