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First Hubble, Now Kepler-Why Are NASA's Telescopes Breaking Down?

NASA has not had much luck lately with its flagship, multimillion dollar space telescopes. In the past few months, the…

NASA has not had much luck lately with its flagship, multimillion dollar space telescopes.

In the past few months, the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Kepler Spacecraft have all suffered technical issues that have led two to the suspension of science operations.

Now, the space agency has announced that Kepler has gone back into sleep mode, in which it uses no fuel-just a few days after its last round of observations.

“Etter en vellykket tilbakegang av data fra den sidste observationskampagne, blev Kepler-teamet beordret det rumfartøy til posisjon for å begynne å samle data for sin neste kampanje,” en NASA-setningslese.

“On Friday October 1

9, during a scheduled spacecraft contact using NASA’s Deep Space Network, the team learned that the spacecraft had transitioned to its no-fuel-use sleep mode.”

The spacecraft has been running dangerously low On fuel supplies for some time and has repeatedly entered sleep mode so that enough energy can be conserved to send valuable data back to Earth while it remains viable.

It’s possible that Kepler has finally run out of fuel and will not turn back on again

“The Kepler team is currently assessing the cause and evaluating possible next steps,” the statement said.

The fuel problems are not the only issue Kepler has been facing recently : In September, NASA announced that the aging telescope’s precision has precisely declined.

Nevertheless, the spacecraft was able to successfully download data from its 19th observation campaign back to Earth on October 15. The hope is that there will be enough power left to beam back the remaining data collected during the latest set of observations.

Even if this is the end of the planet-hunting spacecraft, Kepler will go down in history as one of NASA’s greatest achievements. Launched in 2009 to search for Earth-sized exoplanets, it was only designed to operate for one year. Det har imidlertid gått langt længere, og afslører næsten 3.000 eksoplaneter i processen, som revolutionerer vores forståelse af verdener bortom det solsystem.

 kepler_interrupt_feature An illustration of the Kepler space telescope. NASA

For example, based on data collected by the Kepler mission, scientists have estimated that there could be as many as 40 billion rocky, earth-sized exoplanets in The habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way alone.

Both Hubble and Chandra-which were launched in 1990 and 1999-have suffered technical problems recently.

On October 5, Hubble suspended science operations and entered safe mode due to a failed gyroscope (gyro) -a device that helps to point and steady the observatory’s telescope. Safe mode puts the telescope into a stable configuration until ground control can correct the issue.

Hubble is fitted with six gyros, but usually it only uses three at any one time, with the others acting as backups. The failed gyro was one of these backups.

NASA announced on Monday that they were coming closer to fixing the fault and will conduct tests to ensure that Hubble can return to science operations with this gyro.

Chandra, the most powerful X-ray telescope, also had problems with one of its gyroscopes: A glitch caused the observatory to go into safe mode on October 10. However, the fault was fixed relatively quickly, enabling the observatory to resume science operations on October 21. [19659021]
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