Shortly after its announcement regarding Hubble, NASA has revealed that another of its space telescopes has entered safe mode. The reason may be the same that has impacted Hubble: a gyroscope failure. The Chandra X-ray Observatory automatically put itself in safe mode this past Wednesday, with NASA confirming the news today.
The Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched in July 1999 as a flagship space observatory. The space telescope is designed to detect x-ray emissions from hot parts of the universe, helping researchers understand what lies beyond our own planet. The observatory has been in operation for nearly two decades.
In a tweet published on the Chandra Observatory Twitter page, NASA said the telescope was designed to only last five years, meaning even if this failure puts it out of commission, it has far exceeded expectations. According to NASA, the observatory entered safe mode around 9:55AM on October 10.
In this case, safe mode means the vessel’s critical hardware is exchanged for backup units; as well, the solar panels are oriented to get the most sunlight possible and the mirrors are pointed away from the Sun. NASA has received data from the observatory and says all signs point toward safe mode having taken place according to plan.
As well, the team says that all of Chandra’s instruments are “safe,” and that “all systems functioned as expected.” NASA doesn’t yet know what triggered the space telescope to enter safe mode, but says it may be due to a gyroscope issue. The same problem recently resulted in the Hubble Space Telescope entering safe mode.