"Hubble entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes actively being used to point and steady the telescope failed". But when the third one was powered up, it wasn't operating as it should be, so NASA Goddard engineers placed the telescope in safe mode while they try to figure out the problem. Scientists had already planned to reduce Hubble to using only a single gyroscope at a time once it was down to three, that being meant to prolong the space telescope's lifespan for as long as possible.
The telescope was put in a safe mode for self-protection purposes, so it only performs its absolutely necessary functions, while NASA scientists are trying to solve the problem, as the BBC broadcasts and relays the Athenian News agency.
The six gyros on the Hubble were replaced in 2009 during the final servicing mission to the instrument by NASA's space shuttle. "The remaining three gyros available for use are technically enhanced and therefore expected to have significantly longer operational lives".
The telescope could work with as few as one or two gyroscopes, although that leaves little room for additional breakdowns.
"In many respects, James Webb is going to be very superior to Hubble, but not in every respect", said Prof.
Rachel Osten, the deputy mission head of the spacecraft, shared in a tweet that the team is trying to revive one of the gyros that failed.
Although Hubble uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, it can still continue to make scientific observations with just one, NASA said.
Hubble has made numerous outstanding observations of the cosmos since it was deployed in 1990.
Redundancy is NASA's best friend, and so it is with the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA stands ready for failures with backups, and even in some cases, improved backup equipment.
The gyroscopes on Hubble are small spinning wheels that rotate the spacecraft and keep it stabilized. Two of the gyros onboard which were similar types also previously failed.
"The plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain".
NASA became aware of the issue last Friday when a gyro, already displaying "end of life" behavior, went out of action.
"We'll work through the issues and be back", she promised. There are three gyros of the older generation with a history of showing signs of malfunction after 50,000 hours of service.
It is named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble who was born in Missouri in 1889.