The Hubble Space Telescope gets its close-up after a shuttle servicing mission in 2009. (NASA Photo)
The Hubble Space Telescope is doing science again, three weeks after going out of service due to a gyro failure.
In today’s mission update, NASA said the 28-year-old telescope conducted its first science observations since Oct. 5 overnight, focusing on a faraway galaxy.
Hubble went into safe mode when one of its three working gyroscopes failed, leaving mission managers with a weighty challenge: They could try getting a glitchy gyro working again, bringing the telescope’s pointing system back to its normal three-gyro mode. Otherwise, they would have to go to a one-gyro procedure for pointing at observational targets, and keep the second gyro in reserve.
The latter course would have reduced Hubble’s efficiency for capturing the imagery that has made it famous.
Ever since the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet in 2011, there’s been no possibility of sending astronauts to Hubble for a repair mission. That means any fixes to the telescope can only be done through remote commands.
Fortunately, the team was able to get the glitchy gyro working again, basically by putting the telescope through a series of back-and-forth maneuvers to ...