NASA’s Chandra mission has suffered a glitch in less than a week’s time since its Hubble Space Telescope entered safe mode. The US space agency said that the glitch has occurred possibly due to the failure of the gyroscope.
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory has been monitoring the universe in high-energy light since 1999 and has recently entered a protective “safe mode”. This mode heckles with the scientific observations and positions the spacecraft into a stable configuration.
NASA in a statement on Friday revealed, "At approximately 9:55 a.m. EDT on Oct 10, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory entered safe mode. The cause of the safe mode transition (possibly involving a gyroscope) is under investigation."
Once the safe mode is activated, the observatory positions itself into a safe configuration, the critical hardware is swapped to back-up units, and while the spacecraft directs to the angle where the solar panel can receive maximum sunlight, the mirrors point away from the sun.
"Analysis of available data indicates the transition to safe mode was normal behaviour for such an event. All systems functioned as expected and the scientific instruments are safe," it added.
Chandra is well beyond its original lifetime of 5 years after it was launched in 1999. Later in 2001, NASA extended its lifetime to 10 years. Even after the completion of its original lifetime, it is now well into its extended mission and it is expected to overlook the forefront of science for years to come.
The US space agency asserted that Chandra is working towards the continuation of science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Hubble entered safe mode on October 5 after one among the three gyroscopes (gyros) that were being used to direct and stabilise the telescope failed.
The recovery of gyro to operational performance is currently underway and scientists are performing analyses and tests to determine various options that are available for the same. But till the time the operations are not figured, science operations with Hubble have been suspended.
Besides Chandra and Hubble, NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope is also almost out of fuel. Kepler has found about 70 percent of all known alien worlds to date.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel and might run out as early as this month.