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NASA will update the status of the Hubble telescope


We’ll get an update on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on June 4, and it could be very important. The agency announced on June 3 that the Hubble Space Telescope team will hold a press conference about the observatory’s status at 4 pm ET tomorrow. Specifically, officials said the purpose of this meeting would be to “provide an update on the operation” of the telescope. Sounds ordinary, right? Well, not necessarily. The Hubble Space Telescope team doesn’t hold these types of press conferences very often; especially with two speakers who both have pretty high-profile titles.


Mark Klempin, director of the agency’s astrophysics division and Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, and Patrick Kraus, Hubble project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, will speak.

The news comes three days after NASA announced that Hubble had entered automatic fail-safe mode due to inaccurate readings on one of its last three working gyroscopes, devices that help scientists make sure the telescope is pointing in the right direction. Since its launch in 1990, Hubble has gone through a series of gyroscopes, including some changes. Now there are three left.

Before you get too excited: Yes, this alone may seem like a scary combination of facts. But there is a context in which to place them; It’s a hopeful context that Hubble hasn’t completed its missions yet.

First, in its statement about the upcoming conference, NASA said what agency officials have said repeatedly: “NASA expects Hubble to continue making discoveries throughout this decade and into the future, in collaboration with the agency’s other observatories, such as the James Webb Space Telescope.”

This is a sentiment shared during Hubble’s previous gyro problems, including earlier this year and late last year; The last event actually involved a short series of complications, all of which have been corrected. But none of them needed a conference to announce Hubble’s return to the public. Internet advertisements are sufficient.

This brings us to the next point: Hubble doesn’t actually need all three gyroscopes to work.

According to NASA, Hubble technically only needs one gyroscope to function properly, but according to the European Space Agency (NASA’s partner on the mission), single gyroscope mode could limit scientific observations to some degree.

With all this said, there are two gyroscopes that could allow the space explorer to continue exploring the universe, even if it turns out that the telescope’s faulty gyroscope does not return to normal. For example, in 2004, after the planned Hubble maintenance mission was canceled due to the space shuttle Columbia tragedy, the observatory was switched to dual gyro operation. Finally, in 2009, Hubble’s 4th maintenance mission replaced all six gyroscopes for the final time, followed by a fifth maintenance mission. But there are still only three such gyroscopes left on Hubble, and one of them is the source of the last problem. The other three also suffered from a wiring-related condition known as “flexible cable failure.”

If only two gyroscopes remain operational, the team will likely leave one on and the other in reserve, according to NASA’s report. So if one of the two remaining gyroscopes crashes, the rested one will be nice and fresh and ready for Hubble’s final leg.

Final overtime? I hope not, but unfortunately it is true that scientists believe the telescope could be decommissioned by the mid-to-late 2030s as the drag force of our planet’s atmosphere slowly knocks the instrument out of its approximately 320-mile (515-kilometer) orbit. Above the world.

Such a decommissioning would involve either a controlled return of the telescope to Earth’s atmosphere or a minor elevation of the telescope to a higher Earth orbit where it could remain safely for several decades. If Hubble re-enters the atmosphere, it will mostly burn up like other spacecraft in the process, but it is so large that completely burn I believe that everything that can be saved will be preserved with the respect it deserves.

If you’re stuck on this brief digression about servicing a spacecraft in orbit, as astronauts do in their early years, it’s unclear if there’s much more to it.

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, brave NASA astronauts managed to climb into Earth orbit and work with the observatory to make upgrades and renovations. Maintenance tasks 4 and 5 mentioned above were part of this effort. Consider a microgravity workshop for the space telescope that also involves going into space.

Perhaps Hubble’s most famous maintenance mission is the first; It happened shortly after the telescope was launched into space because the telescope’s basic science data appeared skewed when it returned to Earth. Simply put, the Hubble images were blurry, and scientists realized they had accidentally introduced a defective mirror into the spacecraft. No problem, the agency said, and sent astronauts to make the necessary adjustments. In the space!

Source: Port Altele

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