NASA is working to resume science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope after the spacecraft entered safe mode on Friday, October 5, shortly after 6:00 p.m. EDT. Hubble’s instruments are still fully operational and Hubble is expected to produce excellent science for years to come.
Hubble entered safe mode after one of the three gyroscopes (gyros) actively being used to point and steady the telescope failed. Safe mode puts the telescope into a stable configuration until ground control can correct the issue and return the mission to normal operation.
Built with multiple redundancies, Hubble had six new gyros installed during Servicing Mission-4 in 2009. Hubble usually uses three gyros at a time for maximum efficiency, but can continue to make scientific observations with just one.
The gyro that failed had been exhibiting end-of-life behavior for approximately a year, and its failure was not unexpected; two other gyros of the same type had already failed. The remaining three gyros available for use are technically enhanced and therefore expected to have significantly longer operational lives.
Two of those enhanced gyros are currently running. Upon powering on the third enhanced gyro that had been held in reserve, analysis of spacecraft telemetry indicated that it was not performing at the level required for operations. As a result, Hubble remains in safe mode. Staff at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the Space Telescope Science Institute are currently performing analyses and tests to determine what options are available to recover the gyro to operational performance. Science operations with Hubble have been suspended while NASA investigates the anomaly. An Anomaly Review Board, including experts from the Hubble team and industry familiar with the design and performance of this type of gyro, is being formed to investigate this issue and develop the recovery plan. If the outcome of this investigation results in recovery of the malfunctioning gyro, Hubble will resume science operations in its standard three-gyro configuration.
If the outcome indicates that the gyro is not usable, Hubble will resume science operations in an already defined “reduced-gyro” mode that uses only one gyro. While reduced-gyro mode offers less sky coverage at any particular time, there is relatively limited impact on the overall scientific capabilities.
NASA and The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) are pleased to announce the Cycle 26 Call for Proposals for Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Observations and funding for Archival Research and Theoretical Research programs.
Participation in this program is open to all categories of organizations, both domestic and foreign, including educational institutions, profit and nonprofit organizations, NASA Centers, and other Government agencies.
Cycle 26 will extend from October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019. We will accept proposals for the following instruments: ACS, COS, FGS, STIS, and WFC3.
This solicitation for proposals will be open through August 17, 2018 8:00pm EDT. The Astronomer's Proposal Tools (APT), which is required for Phase I Proposal Submission will be released for Cycle 26 Phase I use on May 14, 2018.
Results of the selection will be announced by the end of October 2018
Please see the Cycle 26 Announcement page for detailed information.
Please take note of the What's New for Cycle 26 section on the announcement page.
In particular, the Director has decided to implement an anonymous review process for Cycle 26.
This follows recommendations by a working group and
discussion with the Space Telescope Users Committee (presentation).The decision has been endorsed by the STUC,
the Space Telescope Institute Council and the AURA Board, and is supported by NASA. A description of the process and instructions on how to adjust proposals to comply with the new requirements are included in the
Call for Proposals.
Questions can be addressed to the STScI Help Desk (web: hsthelp.stsci.edu, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 410-338-1082).
Fundamental Physics with HST
Over the last three decades the Hubble Space Telescope has played a crucial role in probing key parameters relevant to fundamental physics and cosmology. The H(0) key project figured prominently in during the early years, and subsequent programs have reduced measurement uncertainties to less than 3%. More recently, Hubble has investigated other parameters, including testing the nature of dark matter through observations of merging galaxy clusters and using white dwarf spectra to constrain the gravity dependence of the fine structure constant.
Looking forward, the STScI Director convened a working group drawn from the physics and cosmology communities to provide advice on how Hubble might contribute to future investigations in fundamental physics. The committee was chaired by Prof. Bhuvnesh Jain (University of Pennsylvania), and included Prof. Neal Dalal (University of Illinois), Professor Cora Dvorkin (Harvard University), Prof. Jeremy Heyl (University of British Columbia), Prof. Marc Kamionkowski (Johns Hopkins University), Dr. Phil Marshall (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory), and Prof. David Weinberg (Ohio State University). The committee consulted with members of the community and submitted a final report in November 2017.
The Charter can be found here as well as the Final Report.