NASA's Hubble completes first science operation after 3-week hiatus


The iconic scope resumed normal operations Friday (Oct. 26) after a three-week hiatus caused by issues with two orientation-maintaining gyroscopes, NASA officials announced in an update Saturday (Oct. 27). The instrument is responsible for stabilizing and pointing the telescope to a certain direction for long periods of observation.

The Hubble Space Telescope has returned to "normal operations".

A gyro is a device that measures the speed at which the spacecraft is turning, which is necessary to help Hubble turn and lock on to new targets.

The Hubble Space Telescope is once again keeping an eye on the sky. The spacecraft was placed in safe mode when one of the remaining three gyroscopes, turned on after having been held in reserve, reported rates far higher than actual ones.

NASA shared news of the Hubble trouble on October 8.

Last week, the space telescope's operations team commanded Hubble to perform numerous maneuvers and switched the gyroscope between different operational modes, which successfully cleared what was believed to be blockage between components inside the gyroscope that produced the excessively high rate values, NASA said. When that final backup gyro malfunctioned, NASA had to turn the Hubble Space Telescope into safe mode.

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The return to conducting science comes after successfully recovering a backup gyroscope, or gyro, that had replaced a failed gyro three weeks earlier, NASA said in a statement late on Sunday.

More steps were taken that same day.

Astroboffins the world over drew a collective sigh of relief to hear that the Hubble Space Telescope has been formally returned to service.

"Late Friday, the team began the process to restore the scientific instruments to standard operating status", the space agency added.

Launched in 1990, Hubble has had trouble with its gyroscopes before.

The telescope could work with as few as one or two gyroscopes, although that leaves little room for additional breakdowns.