An­other of NASA’s space tele­scopes shuts down in or­bit

Medicine Hat News - - LIFESTYLES - MAR­CIA DUNN

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. An­other NASA space tele­scope has shut down and halted science ob­ser­va­tions.

Less than a week af­ter the Hub­ble Space Tele­scope went off­line, the Chan­dra X-ray Ob­ser­va­tory did the same thing. NASA said Fri­day that Chan­dra’s au­to­mat­i­cally went into so­called safe mode Wed­nes­day, pos­si­bly be­cause of a gy­ro­scope prob­lem.

Hub­ble went into hi­ber­na­tion last Fri­day due to a gy­ro­scope fail­ure.

Both or­bit­ing ob­ser­va­to­ries are old and in well-ex­tended mis­sions: Hub­ble is 28, while Chan­dra is 19. Flight con­trollers are work­ing to re­sume op­er­a­tions with both.

NASA said it’s co­in­ci­den­tal both went “asleep” within a week of one an­other. An as­tronomer who works on Chan­dra, Jonathan McDow­ell of the Har­vard-Smith­so­nian Cen­ter for As­tro­physics, tweeted Fri­day that “Chan­dra de­cided that if Hub­ble could have a lit­tle va­ca­tion, it wanted one, too.”

Launched by space shut­tles in the 1990s, Hub­ble and Chan­dra are part of NASA’s Great Ob­ser­va­to­ries se­ries. The oth­ers are the Comp­ton Gamma Ray Ob­ser­va­tory, which was also launched in the 1990s but even­tu­ally failed and was de­stroyed, and the Spitzer Space Tele­scope, launched in 2003 and still work­ing. Each was in­tended to ob­serve the cos­mos in dif­fer­ent wave­lengths.

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