Hubble in Safe Mode as Bad Gyros Studied

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 25 October 2018


Hubble in Trouble?


Fine image of Hubble in Space, NASA.
Fine Shot of Hubble in Space, photo credit NASA.

Hubble in Safe Mode as Gyro Issues are Diagnosed,
NASA, October 8, 2018.



 “Hubble entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes (gyros) actively being used to point and steady the telescope failed. Safe mode puts the telescope into a stable configuration until ground control can correct the issue and return the mission to normal operation.”

“Hubble had six new gyros installed during Servicing Mission-4 in 2009. Hubble usually uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, but can continue to make scientific observations with just one.”

 “The gyro that failed had been exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year, and its failure was not unexpected; two other gyros of the same type had already failed. The remaining three gyros available for use are technically enhanced and therefore expected to have significantly longer operational lives.”

 “Upon powering on the third enhanced gyro that had been held in reserve, analysis of spacecraft telemetry indicated that it was not performing at the level required for operations. As a result, Hubble remains in safe mode.”

 “If the outcome indicates that the gyro is not usable, Hubble will resume science operations in an already defined “reduced-gyro” mode that uses only one gyro.”

 “An Anomaly Review Board, including experts from the Hubble team and industry familiar with the design and performance of this type of gyro, is being formed to investigate this issue and develop the recovery plan.”

 “If the outcome indicates that the gyro is not usable, Hubble will resume science operations in an already defined “reduced-gyro” mode that uses only one gyro.”



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Final Checks before Normal Operations

Hubble Moving Closer to Normal Science Operations,
NASA, October 22, 2018.


The Operations team had turned on the backup gyro, and it went nuts. What followed was a series of, "gyro-exercises," which eventually saw the backup performing perfectly. They turned the gyro on, off, and back on again, while running it through as many of its tasks as possible, until it eventually worked correctly.

I call the operations team's manuavers, "gyro-vodoo," which, fortunately, produced this result:

"On Oct. 19, the operations team commanded Hubble to perform additional maneuvers and gyro mode switches, which appear to have cleared the issue. Gyro rates now look normal in both high and low mode."

Back to Normal ASAP
"The Hubble operations team plans to execute a series of tests to evaluate the performance of the gyro under conditions similar to those encountered during routine science observations, including moving to targets, locking on to a target, and performing precision pointing. After these engineering tests have been completed, Hubble is expected to soon return to normal science operations."




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Hubble gyro troubles, 2018


Originally Published
2018-10-09 12:37:00

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