The Hubble Space Telescope entered into safe mode after experiencing a gyroscope failure, NASA has revealed. The safe mode is intended to keep the telescope “precisely pointed” for a long duration, the space agency explains, stating that experts are working on fixing the problem. According to the space telescope’s website, it is currently pointed at the Perseus Cluster.
NASA revealed the issue on its Hubble Twitter account, though it didn’t have many details to provide. The telescope remains in use, but is in safe mode while the team works out a way to fix the gyroscope problem. The space agency says it will update on the matter in the future, but no timeframe was provided.
The Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990 and has facilitated many great discoveries, was built with a total of six gyroscopes. According to BBC, four were still working when the failure occurred late last week.
The team managing the telescope attempted to switch on a different gyroscope in its place, but discovered that it was malfunctioning. That was unfortunate, as the telescope requires at least three functional gyroscopes for optimal use.
Though three gyroscopes are ideal, the telescope can be used on only one. Scientists had already planned to reduce Hubble to using only a single gyroscope at a time once it was down to three, that being intended to prolong the space telescope’s lifespan for as long as possible.
Though the space telescope remains in operation, the malfunction highlights the limited time Hubble has remaining. A replacement for the device, the James Webb Space Telescope, has already been established but won’t launch until 2021.
SOURCE: NASA Hubble (Twitter)