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NASA pauses Hubble science missions due to fault gyro

Published Dec 1st, 2023 8:22PM EST
NASA looking to restore Hubble orbit
Image: Dimazel / Adobe

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NASA has paused all of the Hubble space telescope’s current science missions due to a gyro glitch, the space agency has shared. The issue first appeared on November 19, when the telescope entered safe mode after one of its three gyroscopes returned faulty readings.

The team quickly resumed operations after solving the issue, but the unstable gyro caused the system to enter safe mode twice more, on November 21 and November 23. The agency was able to recover operations after the incident on November 21. However, the telescope entered safe mode one more time on November 23, sparking NASA to suspend all scientific missions until it figures out what’s going on.

The three gyroscopes aboard NASA’s Hubble space telescope help measure the telescope’s turn rates, and are part of important systems that help steer which direction the telescope is pointed. NASA says that the team is currently working to figure out what caused the Hubble gyro glitch. The gyros were last replaced during the fifth and final space shuttle service mission in 2009.

up close view of hubble telescopeImage source: NASA

Six gyros were replaced during that mission, and the glitched gyro is one of the last three that are still operational. Despite probably needing another service mission it will never get, NASA believes the Hubble space telescope will continue to make groundbreaking discoveries alongside the James Webb throughout the rest of this decade, and maybe even into the next.

The space agency hasn’t shared any details as to when it hopes to bring Hubble back online after dealing with the gyro glitch. Even if it needs to disable the glitching gyro, the space telescope should still be operational, as NASA says Hubble only needs one working gyro to continue moving and taking part in scientific missions.

Hubble launched in 1990 and has spent the past 33 years studying our universe and giving us iconic glimpses into the cosmos, including a stellar look at the Pillars of Creation, which has also been photographed by astrophotographers and the James Webb space telescope.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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