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Hubble Space Telescope Begins 'Two-Gyro' Science Operations

Date:
September 4, 2005
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope entered a new era of science operations this week, when engineers shut down one of the three operational gyroscopes aboard the observatory. The two-gyro mode is expected to preserve the operating life of the third gyro and extend Hubble's science observations through mid-2008, an eight-month extension.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope entered a new era of science operations this week, when engineers shut down one of the three operational gyroscopes aboard the observatory. The two-gyro mode is expected to preserve the operating life of the third gyro and extend Hubble's science observations through mid-2008, an eight-month extension.
Credit: Image courtesy of STScI and NASA

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope entered a new era of scienceoperations this week, when engineers shut down one of the threeoperational gyroscopes aboard the observatory. The two-gyro mode isexpected to preserve the operating life of the third gyro and extendHubble's science observations through mid-2008, an eight-monthextension.

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This conclusion followed detailed analysis by engineers andscientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., andthe Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore. Thoroughtesting of the two-gyro mode was completed prior to implementation.

The gyros are an integral part Hubble's complex pointing controlsystem. The system maintains precise pointing of the telescope duringscience observations. The system was originally designed to operate onthree gyros, with another three in reserve. Two of the six are nolonger functional.

"Hubble science on two gyros will be indistinguishable from thesuperb science we have become accustomed to over the years," saidsenior Hubble scientist David Leckrone at Goddard.

Gyros are the heart, though not the sole component, of Hubble'spointing control system. When only two gyros are available, theobservatory experiences an "unsensed" direction. Using Hubble's FineGuidance Sensors, engineers were able to "fill in" the missing datanormally generated by the third gyro.

Hubble also needs to know its location as it completes oneobservation and slews across the sky to acquire its next target. Thisinformation, previously supplied by the observatory's three gyros, isprovided by onboard magnetometers and Fixed Head Star Trackers.

Many Hubble astronomers were consulted and were part of the overalldecision process about two-gyro science operations. Switching off onegyro can preserve it for future use and extended two-gyro operationaltime for Hubble.

NASA has stated a Space Shuttle servicing mission to Hubble will beconsidered after two successful return-to-flight missions. Theservicing mission would include installing new gyros, batteries, andscience instruments to provide several more years of observations.

For more information about Hubble on the Web, visit:

http://hubble.nasa.gov/index.php

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Hubble Space Telescope Begins 'Two-Gyro' Science Operations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050902063641.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2005, September 4). Hubble Space Telescope Begins 'Two-Gyro' Science Operations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050902063641.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Hubble Space Telescope Begins 'Two-Gyro' Science Operations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050902063641.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

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