OCT 15, 2018 4:40 PM PDT

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is Back Up and Running

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was recently kicked into safe mode following a mysterious anomaly. Spacecraft engineers have been working around the clock to discern what caused the problem and to get the observatory back up and running for planned scientific operations. 

Fortunately, the American space agency has apprised the public on Monday with some good news: not only has the problem been identified, but the Chandra X-ray Observatory is now on track to continue scientific operations as soon as the end of this week.

An artist's rendition depicting the Chandra X-ray Observatory orbiting the Earth.

Image Credit: NASA

Citing a public statement, NASA confirms how initial speculation was right on the money; the anomalous safe mode boot was allegedly triggered by a three-second gyroscope malfunction that glitched out the spacecraft’s internal software.

NASA remedied the issue by commanding the observatory to read data from one of its backup gyroscopes instead of the buggy one. Now all that’s left to do is upload a few software patches to repair the botched data, and engineers will do what they can to correct the buggy gyroscope so that it can be used as a backup going forward.

Related: What should we do with the aging Hubble Space Telescope?

For what it’s worth, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has well outlived its initial purpose. It was launched 19 years ago with a life expectancy of just five years, but it continues to feed curious astronomers with valuable information about our universe today. Thanks to the bevy of backup gyroscopes onboard, NASA expects Chandra will remain in service for many more years.

Captivatingly, Chandra isn’t the only NASA-owned space telescope to have been impacted by a recent gyroscope malfunction. Earlier this month, the Hubble Space Telescope experienced a similar gyroscope failure, but NASA says the situation is direr on Hubble’s end because there may not be a way to revive the malfunctioning unit.

Despite what looks like an obvious connection of some sort, NASA says it has ruled out foul play or unusual activity as a cause. Instead, it appears to have just been a coincidence.

Related: Why does the James Webb Space Telescope keep getting delayed?

With things looking up for Chandra, it won’t be long now before astronomers can get back to work. On the other hand, Hubble remains out of service for the time being as spacecraft engineers work on a solution to its problem.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Solar Power Stations in Space Could Answer Global Energy Needs
NOV 22, 2020
Solar Power Stations in Space Could Answer Global Energy Needs
W/hile renewable energy technologies have developed exponentially in recent years, a major barrier towards their adoptio ...
MAR 24, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Molecules Containing Carbon Found in Space
MAR 24, 2021
Molecules Containing Carbon Found in Space
It's thought that most carbon found in space is contained in big molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons ( ...
MAY 24, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Plasma jets observed interacting with magnetic fields in far-off galaxy cluster
MAY 24, 2021
Plasma jets observed interacting with magnetic fields in far-off galaxy cluster
New observations from radio telescopes and supercomputer simulations show plasma jets interacting with magnetic fields i ...
MAY 29, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Climate Models Overestimate Role of Greenhouse Gases in Global Warming, Says New Study
MAY 29, 2021
Climate Models Overestimate Role of Greenhouse Gases in Global Warming, Says New Study
Researchers have that there was four times more soot in the pre-industrial Southern Hemisphere's atmosphere than pre ...
JUN 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Curiosity Captures Shimmering Martian Clouds
JUN 01, 2021
Curiosity Captures Shimmering Martian Clouds
Mars has a thin atmosphere without much humidity, making cloudy days rare. But clouds can be found sometimes near the Ma ...
JUN 16, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Mapping the Boundaries of the Heliosphere
JUN 16, 2021
Mapping the Boundaries of the Heliosphere
Earth and the planets in the solar system sit within the heliosphere, a giant bubble formed by the charged particles, li ...
Loading Comments...