How NASA Wants to Give Hubble Space Telescope More Time

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The Hubble Space Telescope has made new discoveries in the universe, but it is getting old. NASA’s plan is intended to keep it alive.

Washington DC – The Hubble Space Telescope has changed the way humanity perceives the universe. Colorful, breathtaking images of the far reaches of space – “Hubble” has been making them visible since its launch in 1990. There are also amazing discoveries in the universe. But the telescope is getting old – more than 15 years have passed since the last repair, and since then the space telescope can only be serviced remotely. This means, among other things, that damaged parts can no longer be replaced.

“Hubble” space telescope had problems with gyroscopes

For years, Hubble has struggled with its gyroscopes, which are responsible for determining which direction the telescope is aimed. The space telescope has six gyroscopes installed, three of which are active so far. But one of the gyroscopes has caused repeated problems over the past six months, putting the Hubble telescope in safety mode. That’s why NASA, the American space agency, is now taking drastic measures.

This big tin barrel in Earth's orbit
This big tin barrel in Earth’s orbit is the “Hubble” space telescope. It creates the breathtaking scenes that everyone knows. © Image Alliance / dpa / NASA

Henceforth, “Hubble” will only work with gyroscopes. A second, more functional tool is intended to act as a “backup”. Like NASA in one Notice The space telescope emphasizes that it can also carry out scientific studies with a gyroscope. “NASA developed this program 20 years ago to extend Hubble’s life and conduct successful science with fewer than three operational gyroscopes,” the US space agency said.

The “Hubble” site was last adjusted in 2009

Only two gyroscopes were in use from 2005 until the last repair in 2009, when a team of six astronauts installed six new gyroscopes during the Hubble spacewalk. However, this possibility does not exist today: with the termination of the “spacecraft” in the summer of 2011, the possibility of reaching the “Hubble” in its Earth orbit and serving the station also ended. Billionaire Jared Isaacman is from NASA It offered to conduct repairs with its Polaris Dawn missionBut NASA has apparently decided against it.

The most important “Hubble” discoveries

In the nearly 35 years since its launch, the Hubble Space Telescope has made many scientific discoveries. Confirming the presence of supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies and discovering that the universe is expanding are crucial. “Hubble” primarily worked in the ultraviolet and optical ranges. Its “successor”, the “James Webb” Space Telescope, looks at space in the near-infrared range.

But what about the decision to use only one of the gyroscopes for the space telescope? “Personally, I don’t see this as a huge limitation in scientific possibilities,” Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters, explains at a NASA press conference about “Hubble.” As NASA says, there will be some “expected minor restrictions” on future scientific observations. The telescope moves in one direction and takes more time to reach the target.

The “Hubble” space telescope will have some “small limitations” in the future

Additionally, “Hubble” will have less flexibility in where and when it can be viewed. The telescope can no longer observe objects moving closer than Mars – until now, this was the telescope’s only target. “We don’t think Hubble is on its last legs.” Citing the Ars Technica portal Clampin.

NASA astronauts last in 2009
NASA astronauts last repaired the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. (Image Archive) © imago/Nasa

Since May 24, the space telescope has been in conservation mode, where it will remain until work is completed. Scientific studies of “Hubble” are scheduled to continue in mid-June. NASA believes that “Hubble” will enter the Earth’s atmosphere and crash in the mid-2030s. By then, the aging space telescope could make “new cosmic discoveries for years to come.” (tab)

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