NASA’s Hubble telescope was going through an equipment malfunction recently, and now another report came in stating that a second telescope called Chandra X-Ray Observatory has the same malfunctioning issue. This is another setback since two of the NASA’s Great Observatories will be shutting down in less than a week’s time.
The equipment which is malfunctioning in both Hubble and Chandra affects the lifespans of all space-based telescopes. The gyroscopes of the telescopes are breaking down, and it can make them entirely useless. The spacecraft gyroscopes are small spinning wheels which keep the telescope stable while observing space for the scientists. These are very important for spacecraft’s working, however; as these are the moving parts, they wear out sooner as compared to other components.
Hubble and Chandra are very old telescopes from NASA, and this kind of technical fault was expected from them. Hubble has been in space for nearly thirty years, and Chandra is also of similar age. These telescopes haven’t been repaired since the Space Shuttle program shut down. Therefore, it was evident that soon there will be breakdowns in the telescopes. Losing Chandra is a more significant loss to the astronomy community than losing Hubble. Hubble can observe the universe in visible light and at the same wavelengths which a human eye can see. Chandra was watching everything in X-rays which allow astronomers to get more information about high-energy objects such as black holes and quasars.
The earth’s atmosphere blocks high-energy sources like X-rays, so the only way to see them from the space was through Chandra. If the telescope goes down, it will cost the astronomers to lose one of their very essential tools which they have been using to study sources of X-ray in the universe. There is a backup gyroscope which the telescope can use, so hopes are that it is not gone forever. However, the telescope is out of commission at the moment. Hopefully, scientists will send a new generation of telescopes in space before the current ones break down completely.