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The Hubble Space Telescope's gyroscope stopped again

The Hubble Space Telescope's gyroscope stopped again

More recently, there was the Hubble Space Telescope His 34th birthdayLaunched on April 24, 1990, it had an originally planned operational life of 15 years – and could be serviced by space shuttles that were still operational at the time.

One of the weak points of the space telescope turned out to be the gyroscopes, which had already been replaced several times before (in the time of the space shuttles), most recently in 2009 – but this is no longer possible. Currently, 3 of the 6 onboard gyros are working.

Hubble launch in 1990. Space shuttles were the only way to reach the Earth-orbiting space telescope, and today there are no suitable spacecraft.

Source: NASA

Gyroscopes are essential for precise pointing of a space telescope, and although they can be operated with one or two gyros, three gyros are needed for truly accurate and easy operation. These measure how far the instrument is rotating, can be used to know exactly where it is looking, and are also necessary to keep the space telescope on the desired target.

the NASA announcement On April 23, someone sent incorrect data, and the space telescope went into safety mode, while the other instruments worked flawlessly. It was the same gyroscope that caused the November 2023 safety mode failure at that time. On April 30, NASA announced that the previous day the instrument had been restarted, so that Hubble would be fully operational again and performing scientific observations once again.

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Corrosion of the thin wires inside the gyroscope (appearing as spirals) causes device errors.

Source: NASA

In Hubble's gyroscopes, a very thin wire is used to conduct data and electrical current inside the gyroscope. According to NASA, this is the weak point in the devices.

Mivel a giroszkóp belsejének lebegnie kell, ezért a drót csak ilyen vékonyka lehet, ám sajnos a korrózió miatt könnyebben meg is hibásodik.

If a wire corrodes, it bends and then breaks.

In 1999, Hubble's engineering management team developed… private situation, The space telescope is now able to operate with 1 or 2 gyroscopes. In addition to the gyroscope, this special mode also uses Hubble's magnetometer and sun sensors to approach the target's direction slowly, in steps of a few degrees and even smaller. If you can stand on it accurately, you can stay on track from now on.

Although there is currently no spacecraft suitable for Hubble service, it is possible that SpaceX could solve this problem, at least the possibility has been discussed.

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