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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Hubble Shuts Eyes After Fourth Gyroscope Fails
15 November 1999 6:00 pm
The stream of science data from the Hubble Space Telescope stopped last weekend after the fourth of the instrument's six gyroscopes failed. The $2 billion telescope will remain in a "safe mode" until astronauts arrive next month for a scheduled service mission to the orbiting spacecraft. Even if all goes well, however, agency officials say it will take another month to get the telescope back on line.
The gyroscopes, which keep the telescope pointed properly, have bedeviled NASA engineers since the Hubble's launch in 1990. Four have been replaced on previous shuttle missions. But the devices have continued to fail, and because Hubble needs three working gyros to make observations, the latest failure, on 13 November, caused NASA to suspend all scientific operations. The shuttle was slated to rendezvous with Hubble in October to replace all six gyros and conduct other maintenance tasks, but problems with the Discovery shuttle have delayed the mission. Space agency officials are eager to meet the 6 December launch date because some of the software for the Hubble servicing mission is not Y2K compliant.
Space science chief Ed Weiler says that the delay poses no danger to Hubble. And because a servicing mission is imminent, "The timing [of the gyro failure] is not so bad," Weiler notes. "We have to just sit and wait." The shutdown interrupted researchers' plans to examine the turbulent upper atmosphere of Jupiter and Saturn's rings and put on hold the search for binary brown dwarfs and a survey of galaxies with high redshifts, according to officials at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which oversees the Hubble's science program. The research will be rescheduled, they added.
On the servicing mission, the shuttle crew will install replacement gyros modified to make them more reliable. The crew will make a total of four space walks--replacing a host of other equipment besides the gyros--before returning to Earth. The mission should keep Hubble operating through 2003.