Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

NASA’s Chandra Observatory back online after brief shutdown

NASA’s Chandra Observatory back online after brief shutdown

Officials said a glitch in one of Chandra's gyroscopes generated three seconds of bad computer data last Wednesday.

As The Register noted last week, Chandra has performed sterling work in its 19 years, including snapping the first images of a shockwave from a supernova, picturing galaxies in the process of merging, revealing different types of black holes, and playing a key role in preparing the route for the New Horizons probe flyby of Pluto and other Kuiper belt objects.

The expert team has finished plans of switching Chandra's gyroscopes and then placing the gyroscope which suffered from the issue in reverse order.

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory, observing the universe in high-energy light since 1999, has entered a protective "safe mode", which interrupts scientific observations and puts the spacecraft into a stable configuration. "Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations, which are expected to commence by next week".

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990, has also entered hibernation and halted science operations.


"Analysis of available data indicates the transition to safe mode was normal behaviour for such an event".

According to the U.S. space agency, it was also going on to work towards resuming its related field of science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope on October 5, but entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes failed.

The space agency hasn't announced why Chandra entered Safe Mode, but all systems aboard the craft functioned successfully in the transition and all of Chandra's instruments are safe and unharmed. In the 2001, NASA extended its lifetime upto 10 years. After the issue is resolved, Chandra's mission is expected to continue "for many years to come", the space agency said.

Scientists are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance.

Hubble's operations team is still diagnosing the problem, and the telescope is still in safe mode. It's one of four observatories in NASA's Great Observatory program, which also includes the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

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