In a statement October 8, NASA said the spacecraft went into a protective safe mode around 5 p.m. It's been peering into the depths of space for almost three decades now, and while it's had a few hiccups in the past, it's always managed to push through them and continue providing humanity with awesome observations.
"While reduced-gyro mode offers less sky coverage at any particular time, there is relatively limited impact on the overall scientific capabilities".
The telescope went into safe mode because of a failure in one of the instrument's gyroscopes, which steer Hubble and ensure it can get a steady view of space. Hubble uses its gyroscopes to keep itself aimed precisely at what astronomers are using it to observe.
NASA has not released a projected timeline, but they are optimistic that the Hubble Space Telescope will be in normal operations soon. Spacewalking shuttle astronauts replaced all six in 2009 during the final servicing mission.
Launched into deep space in 1990, the large, long orbit telescope is packed with instruments like cameras, spectrographs and interferometers to clear up mysteries of the universe.
That was unfortunate, as the telescope requires at least three functional gyroscopes for optimal use. According to NASA, the gyro that failed last week had been exhibiting end-of-life behavior for about a year, and its failure was not unexpected.
More than 30 astronauts have flown to Hubble to deploy, upgrade and fix the observatory with the support of a human spaceflight and space shuttle staff. Thousands of astronomers from dozens of countries have used Hubble and analyzed its data to produce more than 15,000 peer reviewed papers to date. "We'll work through the issues and be back", Osten added in another tweet. Until this past Friday, Hubble worked properly with two newer gyros and one of the older-generation gyros, while the third newer unit was held in reserve.
We know that the unit has a total of six gyroscopes, because it was designed with multiple redundancy of all systems.
The Register first noticed a questionmark over Hubble's health during the weekend, when Michigan State University astronomer Jay Strader tweeted rumours that it was in safe mode "following a gyro failure". "NASA is working to resume science operations", NASA said in an official statement.
Osten said, 'The plan has always been to drop to 1-gyro mode when two remain.