Hubble Space Telescope is operational again, announces NASA

  • Gyroscope Glitch Halts Hubble: On Nov 29, 2023, Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode due to a gyro issue, disrupting scientific operations.
  • Safe Mode Disruptions: Gyro instability led to multiple safe mode entries since Nov 19, temporarily halting scientific observations.
  • Recovery Efforts: NASA’s team conducted tests to identify and resolve the gyro issue, concluding that three-gyro control is feasible.
  • Precision Mode Adoption: Hubble resumes science operations on Dec 8, employing higher-precision gyro mode for improved observational accuracy.
  • Healthy Recovery: Hubble is declared in good health after the gyroscope restoration, with primary cameras resuming scientific observations.
  • Future Plans: Hubble’s team plans to reinstate operations for additional instruments, including the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph later this month.
Hubble Space Telescope is operational again, announces NASA
Hubble Space Telescope is operational again, announces NASA (Image Credit: SciTechDaily)

On November 29, 2023, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope temporarily ceased scientific activities due to a malfunction in one of its gyroscopes. The telescope automatically entered a safe mode as a precautionary measure after detecting inaccurate readings from the affected gyroscope.

Gyroscope Challenge and Recovery

Gyroscopes are crucial for measuring the telescope’s rotation rates and determining its pointing direction. In safe mode, scientific operations are paused, and the telescope awaits new instructions from mission control.

The initial entry into safe mode occurred on November 19. Although the operations team successfully recovered the spacecraft, allowing it to resume observations the following day, gyroscopic instability prompted a second suspension of science operations on November 21. After a successful recovery, Hubble entered safe mode once again on November 23.

Since then, the mission team has been conducting tests to identify and address the gyro issue. Through data analysis, they determined that science operations can resume using the three-gyro control system. During tests, the team observed the gyros’ performance and opted to operate them in a higher-precision mode during scientific observations.

NASA reinstated the Hubble Space Telescope

NASA reinstated the Hubble Space Telescope to full science operations on Friday, December 8. The spacecraft is reported to be in good health and is once again utilizing all three gyros.

The primary cameras on Hubble, namely the Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys, have resumed scientific observations as of Friday. The team plans to restore operations for the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph later this month.

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