NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory entered protective “safe mode” on 10 October due to a malfunction of some sort. The Hubble Space Telescope went into safe mode 5 October due to problems with one of its four operational gyroscopes.
It is not yet known what sidelined Chandra.
Launched aboard the shuttle Columbia in July 1999, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory has operated 14 years past its five-year design life. It is one of NASA’s original “Great Observatories” projects along with Hubble, the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
The gyroscope that failed aboard Hubble earlier this month was one of three used to move the telescope from target to target and to keep it locked on for science observations. The failure sent the observatory into safe mode. Engineers tried to activate a backup, but it, too, experienced problems, reporting higher rates of motion that were actually occurring.
About Chandra X-Ray Observatory:
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory is a NASA telescope that looks at black holes, quasars, supernovas, and the like – all sources of high energy in the universe. It shows a side of the cosmos that is invisible to the human eye.
It was previously known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF).
After more than a decade in service, the observatory has helped scientists glimpse the universe in action. It has watched galaxies collide, observed a black hole with cosmic hurricane winds, and glimpsed a supernova turning itself inside out after an explosion.
The telescope is named after the Nobel Prize-winning Indian-American astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.