Tech support for a telescope is quite the challenge.
Fans of photography of galaxies, nebulas and star clusters can rejoice: NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is back in action.
The space telescope is online and performing scientific observations again, NASA announced Saturday. Hubble went offline Oct. 5 after one of the gyroscopes—which keep the telescope steady—failed.
While a backup gyro should have taken over, it wasn't able to perform, as it had been turned off for over seven years. Designed to last 15 years, Hubble has been taking snapshots of the cosmos for 28 years. Technical difficulties are to be expected.
How did NASA get the gyroscope to kick back on? The team jiggled it. NASA phrased it a bit differently, however:
"Last week the operations team commanded Hubble to perform numerous maneuvers, or turns, and switched the gyro between different operational modes, which successfully cleared what was believed to be blockage between components inside the gyro that produced the excessively high rate values."
NASA hopes to launch the successor to Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope, in 2021. This could take the pressure off Hubble's aging mechanics and produce twice as many images of the universe.