NASA to Change How It Points Hubble Space Telescope

To return to consistent science operations, NASA is transitioning the spacecraft to a new operational mode it had long considered: Hubble will operate with only one gyro, while keeping another gyro available for future use. The spacecraft had six new gyros installed during the fifth and final space shuttle servicing mission in 2009. To date, three of those gyros remain operational, including the gyro currently experiencing problems, which the team will continue to monitor. Hubble uses three gyros to maximize efficiency but can continue to make science observations with only one gyro. NASA first developed this plan more than 20 years ago, as the best operational mode to prolong Hubble’s life and allow it to successfully provide consistent science with fewer than three working gyros. Hubble previously operated in two-gyro mode, which is negligibly different from one-gyro mode, from 2005-2009. One-gyro operations were demonstrated in 2008 for a short time with no impact to science observation quality.

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