Another space telescope shuts down – one week after Hubble

Another space telescope shuts down – one week after Hubble

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Less than a week after the Hubble Space Telescope went down due to a gyroscope problem, the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory has also gone offline.

NASA issued a press release today saying that Chandra automatically went into “safe mode” on Wednesday, and it may also be due to a gyroscope problem.

As previously reported, the Hubble Space Telescope  went into hibernation last Friday due to a gyroscope failure.

Some perspective – both orbiting telescopes are old and in well-extended missions: Hubble is 28 years since launch, while Chandra was launched 19 years ago. Unfortunately, NASA no longer has shuttle capability, so they cannot be serviced in orbit.

From the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory website:

At approximately 1355 GMT on October 10, 2018, NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory entered Safe Mode, where the telescope’s instruments are put into a safe configuration, critical hardware is swapped to back-up units, the spacecraft points so that the solar panels get maximum sunlight, and the mirrors point away from the Sun. Analysis of available data indicates the transition to safe mode was nominal, i.e., consistent with normal behavior for such an event. All systems functioned as expected and the scientific instruments are safe. The cause of the Safe Mode transition is currently under investigation, and we will post more information when it becomes available.

Chandra is 19 years old, which is well beyond the original design lifetime of 5 years. In 2001, NASA extended its lifetime to 10 years. It is now well into its extended mission and it is expected to continue carrying out forefront science for many years to come.

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