Astronauts fix Hubble gyroscopes, despite technical glitch

May 16th, 2009 - 1:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 16 (ANI): Astronauts have managed to repair gyroscopes in the Hubble, the most critical repair to the giant space telescope, despite facing significant glitches in the process.

According to a report by BBC News, in a second spacewalk, mission specialists Mike Good and Mike Massimino put a refurbished pair of gyroscopes into the telescope after a new set refused to go in.

Besides the gyroscopes, which would enable the Hubble to orient precisely, the giant telescope also got fresh batteries to ensure five more years of life.

Despite the setbacks, scientists said that Hubble would function well, pointing to ever-distant objects in the cosmos.

The troubled spacewalk on May 15 was the longest yet, lasting eight hours.

“At times, I felt like I was wrestling a bear,” Mike Massimino was quoted as saying by AFP news agency, as he and Mike Good struggled to install the gyroscopes, or “rate sensing units” (RSUs).

Previously, only three of the six gyroscopes worked.

But, after the marathon spacewalk, Hubble has four brand new sets and two refurbished ones. Only two are needed to orient the telescope properly.

Of the six gyroscopes replaced, three had failed, two were acting up and one was working properly.

Gyroscopes keep the 19-year-old Hubble telescope pointed where it should be, and hence the replacement operation was the most important part of this mission’s five scheduled spacewalks.

The first part of the spacewalk was to replace the three RSUs, each of which contains two gyroscopes.

While the first RSU went in as planned, the second one did not seat properly on its plate. The crew opted to place the third RSU in the slot of the second.

The same problem occurred when the RSU meant for the second slot was placed into the third, so the crew opted to install a refurbished unit instead.

But, Hubble’s deputy senior project scientist, Mal Niedner, said he was not concerned that the astronauts had to resort to refurbished gyroscopes, which lack the latest anticorrosive wiring.

“It’s the difference between an A and an A-plus,” he was quoted as saying by AP news agency.

The three batteries that were replaced were the original equipment installed on Hubble 19 years ago, intended to have just a five-year lifespan. (ANI)

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