Hubble Space Telescope resumes science operations

The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the Space Shuttle Atlantis in May 2009, during the fifth and final servicing of the orbiting observatory
The Hubble Space Telescope as seen from the Space Shuttle Atlantis in May 2009, during the fifth and final servicing of the orbiting observatory. (Image credit: NASA)

The Hubble Space Telescope has resumed its science operations on April 29, 2024 as NASA has been able to solve its gyroscope issue.

The telescope had paused its science operations as it automatically entered safe mode on April 23, 2024, due to the faulty readings of one of its three gyroscopes.

“The spacecraft is in good health and once again operating using all three of its gyros,” NASA said in a statement.

A gyroscope is an onboard instrument of the Hubble Space Telescope that controls the rotating motion (turn rates) while it moves in Earth’s orbit and ensures that it remains at the correct pointing during observations. 

The telescope had a total of six gyroscopes when it launched into Earth’s orbit in 1990.

“Each gyroscope contains a wheel spinning at 19,200 revolutions per minute inside a sealed cylinder,” the European Space Agency (ESA) said in a statement.

Astronauts had replaced all six gyroscopes on Hubble during the fifth and final servicing of the orbiting observatory in 2009. Seven astronauts went into Earth orbit aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis to troubleshoot Hubble on May 11, 2009.

Hubble needs three of its six gyroscopes to ensure maximum efficiency, but it can continue its science observations with only one gyroscope if required. 

The telescope had lost three gyroscopes within a few years of the last servicing mission, and currently only three gyroscopes are operational.

Since April 23, 2024, one of its operational gyroscopes has been giving faulty readings, which NASA was able to resolve on April 29, 2024.

The Hubble Space Telescope has been observing the universe for more than three decades since its launch on April 24, 1990, and recently the telescope celebrated its 34th anniversary.

Related article: Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 34th anniversary 

The Hubble Space Telescope is a joint collaboration of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

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Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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