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NASA’s Chandra Observatory Back Up, Hubble Still In Trouble

The Hubble Telescope in orbit. Photo: NASA

An orbiting telescope that went offline last week is back up, according to NASA, but the Hubble telescope remains shut down.

The Chandra X-ray observatory went into so-called safe mode last week a few days after NASA discovered problems with Hubble. Mission managers say they figured out the problem with Chandra: a glitch in the gyroscope system that helps steers the telescope.

“The team has completed plans to switch gyroscopes and place the gyroscope that experienced the glitch in reserve,” NASA said. “Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations

Chandra, which detects x-ray emissions from galaxies and black holes, should be back up and running next week.

The Hubble Space Telescope remains in safe-mode as managers try to figure out another gyroscope issue on the 28 year old spacecraft. Hubble launched from Cape Canaveral back in 1990. At the time of launch, the project cost about $1.5 billion.

Hubble and Chandra are two of four spacecraft in NASA’s so-called “Great Observatories,” launched between 1990 and 2003.

The two, along with Spitzer Space Telescope, are operating well outside their planned mission duration. The forth telescope, Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, ended its mission in 2000 after a gyroscope failure was discovered about a year earlier. The telescope was intentionally deorbited in the interest of public safety.

NASA said the twin gyroscope issues on Chandra and Hubble are coincidental.

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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 »