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Another Space Telescope Enters “Safe Mode”

Artist illustration of the Chandra X-Ray telescope. Photo: NASA

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory has entered safe mode and halted science observations, shortly after the Hubble Space Telescope shut down.

The observatory went offline less than a week after Hubble. NASA said the telescope went into so-called safe mode, possibly because of a gyroscope problem.

Chandra is a telescope specially designed to detect X-ray emission from very hot regions of the Universe such as exploded stars, clusters of galaxies, and matter around black holes.

The telescopes use a set of gyroscopes to help navigate and steady the spacecraft. Hubble went offline due to a similar issue. Safe mode is automatically activated to protect the spacecraft if its computers thinks there might be a technical problem.

Both orbiting observatories launch on the space shuttle back in the 1990s. They’re old and in well-extended missions: Hubble is 28, while Chandra is 19. Flight controllers are working to resume operations with both.

NASA said it’s just a coincidence both shut down so close together.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »