The Hubble telescope is close to resuming full operations after Nasa performed what has been likened to a "turn it…
The Hubble telescope is close to resuming full operations after Nasa performed what has been likened to a “turn it of and on again” approach to a broken office computer.
The space telescope was sidelined earlier this month after a gyroscope
The device had been expected to fail at some point this year, but the surprise came when a backup did not kick in properly after the initial failure. As a result, Hubble has remained in so-called safe mode and all science observations are on hold.
Gyroscopes are needed to keep Hubble pointing in the right direction as it operates 340 miles (540km) above Earth. Precise pointing is crucial: astronomers use the telescope to peer deep into the cosmos, revealing farway galaxies, black holes and solar systems. Last week, astronomers said they could have discovered the first moon outside our solar system, with Hubble’s help.
Nasa has said Hubble is expected to return to normal science operations soon after it performed a “running restart” of the gyroscope on 16 October, which turned the device off for a second.
Det var fulgt op på 18 oktober med en række rumskraft manøvrer – kendt som svinger – i et forsøg på at fjerne enhver blokering i gyroskopet.
The space agency said: “The Hubble operations team plans to execute a series of tests to evaluate the performance of the gyro under conditions similar to those encountered during routine science observations, including moving to targets, locking on a target, and performing precision pointing. After these engineering tests have been completed, Hubble is expected to return soon to normal science operations. “
Jessie Christiansen at the Nasa Exoplanet Science Institute described the news as a” huge relief. “
” Hubble going down to one -gyro mode zou in het bijzonder hebben gehinderd onze inspanningen om te karakteriseren extrasolare plane atmospheres in de jaren omhoog tot [the launch of the new space telescope] James Webb, “vertelde hij de website Gizmodo, die een vergelijking tussen de Nasa-ingenieurs-inspanningen en de” turn it off
The 28-year-old telescope has had trouble with its gyroscopes before. Shuttle astronauts replaced all six in 2009 during a spacewalk on the final service mission. Drie van de apparaten zijn nu beschouwd als unusable.