NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has bounced back from the glitch that knocked it offline two weeks ago. This glitch was…
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has bounced back from the glitch that knocked it offline two weeks ago.
This glitch was caused by an orientation-containing gyroscope, whose misfortunes caused the eager space telescope to enter a protective “safe mode” on October 10th. But members of the mission groups could establish a new gyroscope configuration, and Chandra resumed science operations on Sunday night (21 October), NASA officials said.
“The team initiated a set of maneuvers to change the positioning and orientation of spacecraft to confirm that the gyroscope occurred. As expected,” agency officials wrote in a mission update today (October 24). [Our X-Ray Universe: Amazing Photos by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory]
“During the coming week, researchers will gather spacecraft data to fine-tune the performance of the new gyroscope configuration,” they added. “As a last step, the team will link up a software patch to apply the necessary adjustments to the built-in computer.”
Chandra has studied the sky in X-rays since 1999, when launched to Earth’s orbit aboard the space shuttle Columbia. The telescope has made many important discoveries over the years – helping astronomers to observe the formation of giant galaxies, for example, and map the distribution of mysterious dark matter through the cosmos.
Chandra is one of four spacecraft launched between 1990 and 2003 under NASA’s “Great Observatories” program, alongside the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes and Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO).
A gyroscopic error led CGRO’s mission to the end after nine years, and a gyro has recently bedviled Hubble, although the famous volume is expected to recover soon. Spitzer, like Hubble, remains active today.
Shortly after, Chandra opened his eyes again, and another space NASA space telescope went to sleep. The Kepler Spacecraft, which has discovered about 70 percent of the 3,800 known extraterrestrial planets, has gone to a “non-fuel sleeper”, NASA officials announced yesterday (October 23).
This is no big surprise. Kepler has been driving low fuel for months, and the telescope’s manager has stressed that the end is close.
Mike Wall’s book on the search for alien life, “Out There”, will be published on Nov. 13 by Grand Central Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @ michaeldwall . Follow us @Spacedotcom or Facebook. Originally published on Space.com.