NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory Bouncing Back from Glitch

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory Bouncing Back from Glitch

NASA is having a really tough time.

The erroneous reading triggered the safe-mode condition, which caused Chandra to swap critical hardware operations to backup units and reconfigure its mirrors and solar panels to avoid the risk of damage.

The reason behind the observatory, which has been providing insightful data about the universe since the year 1999, entering into a safe, protective mode last week has been understood by the NASA's Operations team who has successfully restored the spacecraft into its regular pointing mode, the space agency said on October 15. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory has greatly contributed to our improved understanding of the universe. According to an official NASA statement, Chandra transitioned into safe mode in a manner consistent with "normal" or expected behavior. NASA still does not know why the spacecraft transitioned to safe mode.

The good news here is that the spacecraft entered safe mode successfully, which is what it's created to do in such circumstances, so at least that part of the observatory is functioning as intended.

As The Register noted last week, Chandra has performed sterling work in its 19 years, including snapping the first images of a shockwave from a supernova, picturing galaxies in the process of merging, revealing different types of black holes, and playing a key role in preparing the route for the New Horizons probe flyby of Pluto and other Kuiper belt objects.

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The Chandra X-ray Observatory entered safe mode on Wednesday to protect itself from potential issues.

NASA said Hubble would still be able to provide science "well into the 2020s".

If the Hubble team can implement solutions from the ground to compensate for the problem, the space 'scope will return to three-gyro operations - if not, one of the gyros now in service will be parked and the telescope will be put into single-gyro mode. The telescope's actions are temporarily suspended until NASA engineers can see if they can fix the issue.

Only the essential instruments it needs to survive are now working, but all of its scientific equipment are otherwise safe.

Grant Tremblay, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted that there is a "clear pathway to recovery" for Chandra.

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