NASA engineers resorted to the old and proven, but highly original for spacecraft method to return to the work of the failed space telescope “Hubble”. Recall that the space Observatory due to the failure of the important details needed to Orient the telescope in space has entered the standby mode at the beginning of October, completely stopping research activities. Instead of the failed equipment the telescope will use a spare. This will allow Hubble to operate at full capacity.
One of the gyroscopes of the telescope, the device needed to measure how fast the telescope is rotated in space, is out on 5 October. Two of the six available of Hubble gyroscopes have already failed before. Therefore, the number of gyroscopes was reduced to three. The telescope for proper operation requires only three such devices, however, NASA faced a problem from another such device. Actually, the gyro was off for seven and a half years, and when NASA engineers decided to use it, the device began to transmit to Earth information about how the Hubble has positioned itself in space. However, it turned out that the gyro “lying.” The device pointed to the fact that the Hubble is spinning much faster than it really is.
Technically Hubble is able to operate with two gyros, but it will significantly limit its ability to select targets for observation and research. Therefore, NASA decided that two gyro unreliable. First, the engineers of Hubble for a second, turned off the gyro, then turned on again. In solving the problem it did not help. Then the team programmed the telescope and make a few aggressive maneuvers. The engineers suggested that the alignment of the gyro was off and sharp maneuvers can return the cylinder inside the gyro in place. Surprisingly, it worked. Gyro stopped sending incorrect data about the speed of rotation of the telescope.
The design of the gyroscopes are rings that rotate with a speed of 19,200 rpm inside a cylinder filled with a special liquid. The kit allows the sensors in the cylinder to note even the slightest changes in the movement of the rotating rings on which information is supplied to the computer of Hubble. This information is very important because it allows the telescope to adjust its position and spent a lot of time observing objects within the Solar system and beyond.
For nearly 30 years the work of Hubble in space, all six gyroscopes of the telescope was replaced under maintenance. Carried out such operations during the space Shuttle program. But as the program has long been closed, fix the telescope in place if it breaks is not possible. Thus, if something breaks, and NASA engineers already have to break head over how to fix it from the Ground.
Since the failure of the gyroscope the telescope went into hibernation in which the most scientific instruments of the device were turned off. Thus, for some time he could not carry out any astronomical observations. Because the Hubble is still a very important tool for the astronomical community, allowing the study of distant stars and galaxies, NASA had to figure out a way to bring it back.
The telescope is still not fully operational. Engineers Agency decided to conduct several maneuvers in order to verify a “refurbished” gyro. In addition, there will be several tests that can rule out failure of the device in the future. If all checks go well, the telescope will return to full load level.
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