Chandra X-ray Observatory back online after failure

17 Octobre, 2018, 09:24 | Auteur: Therese Cote
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On Monday, NASA reported that a glitch in one of Chandra's gyroscopes created a domino effect throughout the facility: A three-second period of bad data led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum, which ultimately triggered safe mode.

At approximately 9:55 a.m. EDT on October 10, 2018, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory entered safe mode, in which the observatory is put into a safe configuration, critical hardware is swapped to back-up units, the spacecraft points so that the solar panels get maximum sunlight, and the mirrors point away from the Sun.

One possible reason identified last week was a glitch in a gyroscope that confused the machine and forced it to enter safe mode as a precaution to prevent any damage. The problems with Chandra surfaced on October 10, just days after the iconic Hubble Space Telescope also went into safe mode due to issues with its gyroscopes, which help point the spacecraft.

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As The Register noted last week, Chandra has performed sterling work in its 19 years, including snapping the first images of a shockwave from a supernova, picturing galaxies in the process of merging, revealing different types of black holes, and playing a key role in preparing the route for the New Horizons probe flyby of Pluto and other Kuiper belt objects.

The space agency hasn't announced why Chandra entered Safe Mode, but all systems aboard the craft functioned successfully in the transition and all of Chandra's instruments are safe and unharmed. "In 2001, NASA extended its lifetime to 10 years". It is now well into its extended mission and is expected to continue carrying out forefront science for many years to come, it said. In safe mode, science experiments are suspended, primary hardware hands its tasks over to backup systems, and the satellite orients itself to get maximum sunlight on its solar panels.

Following this gyro failure, the Hubble operations team turned on a backup gyro. The telescope was designed for a mission life of five years, but it's on track to last four times that long.

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