Hubble Telescope, Disoriented by Mechanical Failure, Takes a Nap to Reboot

The Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s jewel of the skies, is usually temporarily out of service. On Friday, the telescope stood down through observing along with put itself into “safe mode” after one of its gyroscopes, which keep This specific aimed at objects of scientific interest, died.

NASA has appointed a review board to investigate the gyroscope problem. The telescope carries a total of six gyroscopes, although only three are needed to run the telescope. The others serve as backups.

During Hubble’s early years the gyroscopes died often, along with replacing them was one of the main tasks of servicing missions. During the last along with final servicing mission, in May 2009, astronauts installed six brand-new gyroscopes. Two have since died, leaving a backup along with three working gyroscopes, one of which expired on Friday.

although when ground controllers tried to bring the backup gyroscope online, This specific behaved erratically, sending garbled messages back to the ground, said Ken Sembach, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which operates the telescope.

The instrument may simply need to be rebooted, Dr. Sembach said in a brief telephone interview on Monday. although, he added, “We don’t want to start flipping switches until we understand what’s happening.”

Dr. Sembach said that will the review board would likely need at least a few days to reach any conclusion. Hubble can operate with just two gyroscopes if necessary, as This specific did through 2005 to 2009 while waiting for astronauts to come fix This specific. Even one gyroscope will do in a pinch.

The flow of heavenly cosmic postcards has stopped for today, although Dr. Sembach said that will Hubble still has years of not bad science ahead of This specific.

A variation of This specific article appears in print on , on Page A15 of the brand-new York edition with the headline: Hubble Naps While NASA Checks Glitch In Gyroscope. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe