NASA Chandra telescope resurrected after glitch

The space agency gets some good news about one of its stricken space telescopes, though Hubble remains in safe mode.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

NASA released this view of the crustacean-like Crab Nebula in 2017. The image required the combined efforts of five different telescopes, including Chandra, Spitzer and Hubble. 

NASA, ESA, NRAO/AUI/NSF and G. Dubner (University of Buenos Aires)

It's been rough going for NASA lately, but there's at least one bright spot in space. The Chandra X-ray Observatory is healthy and set to resume science operations after a problem forced it into safe mode on Oct. 10. 

NASA announced on Monday it traced the cause to a gyroscope glitch that generated "a three-second period of bad data that in turn led the onboard computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum." That issue triggered the space telescope's protective mode.

The Chandra team switched gyroscopes and placed the balky gyroscope into reserve. NASA expects the telescope will resume its normal work next week after a software reconfiguration is completed.

Chandra makes X-ray observations of distant space objects, including black holes, supernovas and quasars. 

Gyroscope issues seems to be a theme right now. The gyros are used to help accurately point the telescopes at their targets. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope remains in safe mode following a gyro failure earlier in October. A backup gyro was glitchy as well. 

The Hubble team is investigating possible solutions for correcting the problems, but is considering operating the telescope with just a single active gyro.

NASA is also dealing with a failed Soyuz launch to the ISS, a data transmission problem with the Mars Curiosity rover and a long silence from the Mars Opportunity rover, which was disabled by a dust storm in June.

At least Chandra looks like it will be able to quickly pick up where it left off. 

NASA's Hubble telescope delivers stunning new space pictures

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