The Role of Gyroscopes

Gyroscopes are essentially spinning wheels that resist changes in direction. In the Hubble Telescope, they play a vital role in ensuring the telescope points precisely at celestial objects.

Aging Gracefully: Hubble’s Gyro Replacements

The original gyroscopes were eventually replaced during a servicing mission in 2009. This replaced all six gyroscopes with the expectation of extending the operational life of the telescope.

Gyro Malfunction Disrupts Observations

Unfortunately, one of the replacement gyroscopes began experiencing issues in late 2023. This malfunction caused the telescope to enter safe mode, a protective state that stops scientific observations.

Temporary Fixes and a Long-Term Plan

While NASA was able to reset the malfunctioning gyro a few times, these fixes were temporary. To ensure continued operation, NASA has made the decision to transition the telescope to use only one of its remaining functional gyroscopes.

One-Gyro Mode: A Proven Approach

The decision to move to single-gyro mode is not without precedent. In 2008, the Hubble Telescope operated successfully in this mode for a short period. NASA’s team is confident that this approach will allow the telescope to resume scientific observations.

Limitations of Single-Gyro Mode

Single-gyro mode reduces Hubble's efficiency, taking longer to lock onto targets. It also limits tracking of fast-moving objects closer than Mars. However, these types of observations have rarely been a part of Hubble's mission.

Restoring Hubble to Operation

The switch to single-gyro mode requires reconfiguring both the telescope itself and the ground systems that communicate with it. NASA’s

Limitations of One-Gyro Mode (Continued)

One-gyro mode isn't a perfect solution. It will take Hubble longer to complete observations, and it won't be able to study certain objects. However, for many astronomical targets, Hubble will still be a powerful tool.

Back to Work: Restoring Hubble's Operations

NASA's racing to revive Hubble! Adjustments are underway for both the telescope and ground control. They're targeting a mid-June return, so Hubble can get back to gazing at the cosmos.

The Future of Hubble: A Legacy of Discovery

ubble's a trooper! Even with recent issues, NASA expects it to keep going strong for another 10 years.  Teaming up with Webb and future telescopes, Hubble's discoveries are just getting started.