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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope temporarily pauses observations after malfunction

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer
Published: June 4, 2024, 8:35am

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The Hubble Space Telescope has temporarily stopped observing the cosmos.

NASA said the telescope slipped into a hibernating state more than a week ago when one of its three remaining gyroscopes — part of the pointing system — malfunctioned. The same device has been acting up for months and disrupting scientific operations.

Hubble remains safe but inactive as flight controllers figure out how to proceed, officials said. The space agency planned to outline a path forward on Tuesday.

Hubble got six new gyroscopes during astronauts’ final visit in 2009. The devices’ spinning wheels keep the telescope stable and looking the right way by tracking Hubble’s rotation and position in space.

Three gyroscopes no longer function. NASA said the 34-year-old observatory could keep making discoveries with only one or two good gyroscopes.

Space shuttle Discovery delivered Hubble to orbit in 1990. Its bigger and more powerful successor, the Webb Space Telescope, launched in 2021.