After Hubble, NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory space telescope enters safe mode

Space										
		
																	Now there’s something wrong with NASA’s Chandra spacecraft too					
								
			
	
		Mike Wehner			@MikeW

The Chandra X-ray Observatory is healthy and set to resume science operations after a problem forced it into safe mode on October 10.

"The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra's gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that, in turn, led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum".

Since its deployment from the shuttle Columbia in 1999, Chandra has charted X-ray emissions from a wide range of astronomical sources, including black holes and supernovae. The Chandra mission's operation team determined that the outage was caused by a fault in one of the gyroscopes used by Chandra's pointing system.

The reasons for failure x-ray Observatory "Chandra" is still unknown.

The expert team has finished plans of switching Chandra's gyroscopes and then placing the gyroscope which suffered from the issue in reverse order.


In safe mode, science experiments are suspended, primary hardware hands its tasks over to backup systems, and the satellite orients itself to get maximum sunlight on its solar panels. "Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations which are expected to commence by the end of this week". According to an official NASA statement, Chandra transitioned into safe mode in a manner consistent with "normal" or expected behavior. An investigation is now underway to figure out why the 19-year-old spacecraft suddenly transitioned to safe mode, although the space agency suspects that one of its gyroscopes might have experienced a malfunction.

Only the essential instruments it needs to survive are now working, but all of its scientific equipment are otherwise safe.

The better-known Hubble Space Telescope also experienced a gyro breakdown last month. In the year 2001, the space agency had extended Chandra's lifetime to further ten years.

Scientists are now performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance. It's one of four observatories in NASA's Great Observatory program, which also includes the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

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