CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — One of NASA’s space telescopes is back in business after a two-day shutdown.
NASA said Monday that the Chandra X-ray Observatory came back online Friday. Chandra's trouble occurred less than a week after the Hubble Space Telescope was sidelined. In both cases, the problem was in the pointing system.
Officials say a glitch in one of Chandra’s gyroscopes generated three seconds of bad computer data last Wednesday. That was enough for the 19-year-old telescope to go into so-called safe mode, during which science observations cease. Flight controllers restored Chandra’s pointing by switching to a backup gyroscope.
Observations are expected to resume with Chandra by the end of this week. Hubble, meanwhile, remains out of action with a more serious gyroscope issue that cropped up Oct. 5.
So what does the telescope do? Below are some highlights of Chandra’s work:
A visualization of the center of our galaxy. (NASA)This Chandra X-ray image released by NASA Sept. 26, 2000, of the Sirius star system located 8.6 light years from Earth shows two sources and a spike-like pattern due to the support structure for the transmission grating. The bright source is Sirius B, a white dwarf star that has a surface temperature of about 25,000 degrees Celsius which produces very low energy X-rays. The dim source at the position of Sirius A - a normal star more than twice as massive as the sun - may be due to ultraviolet radiation from Sirius A leaking through the filter on the detector. The white dwarf, Sirius B, has a mass equal to the mass of the sun, packed into a diameter that is 90% that of the Earth. The gravity on the surface of Sirius B is 400,000 times that of Earth. (NASA/AFP/Getty Images)392439 04: An image of NASA''s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope shows a halo of hot gas surrounding spiral galaxy NGC 4631 that is similar to the Milky Way galaxy, June 19, 2001. The orange color in the middle of the image represents ultraviolet radiation as observed by UIT, tracing massive stars in the galaxy. (Photo Courtesy of NASA/Getty Images)
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In this handout provided by NASA, an X-ray image from the orbiting Chandra Observatory shows the nucleus of NGC 1260, the galaxy containing SN 2006gy, a massive star in what scientists are calling the brightest supernova ever recorded. Supernovas usually occur when massive stars exhaust their fuel and collapse under their own gravity, in this case the star could have possibly been 150 times larger than our own sun. (Photo by NASA/CXC/UC Berkeley/N.Smith et al. via Getty Images)SPACE, SPACE: This image released October. 2004 by NASA shows Kepler's supernova remnant produced by combining data from NASA's three Great Observatories -- the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. (HO/AFP/Getty Images)A composite image of the supernova 1E0102.2-7219 contains X-rays from Chandra (blue and purple), visible light data from VLT’s MUSE instrument (bright red), and additional data from Hubble (dark red and green). A neutron star, the ultra dense core of a massive star that collapses and undergoes a supernova explosion, is found at its center. (NASA)An optical and x-ray observation of the galaxy NGC6240 is shown in this handout image from the NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-Ray observatory on Nov. 19, 2002. (NASA/CXC/MPE/S.Komossa/Getty Images)