NASA has temporarily closed the camera of one of its space-based telescopes following a power issue. The closure of the camera eye of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which has been studying the very hot regions of the Universe for over two decades, has halted its science work. The telescope suffered a power supply problem with its High-Resolution Camera (HRC) instrument on February 9, the space agency said. NASA scientists are now analysing the problem and determining the appropriate response to get the observatory back to work as soon as possible.
NASA said they have so far not detected any problem with the spacecraft, which is operating normally. The Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched in 1999 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, has delivered a wealth of images and data that have helped scientists better understand and unpack the many mysteries and evolution of the cosmos.
“On Wednesday, February 9, 2022, routine monitoring data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory indicated a power supply problem in the spacecraft's High-Resolution Camera,” NASA stated this week. Engineers working on the mission have paused science operations and put the four science instruments into safe mode, it added.
Separately, the Chandra X-ray Center Director's Office released an update on Twitter, saying the High-Resolution Camera was “powered down after being discovered in an anomalous state”. The notice added that the cause behind this was being investigated. Scientists are trying to resume operation using a different instrument, called the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrograph or ACIS, by early next week.
The current glitch isn't the first time the X-ray observatory has faced a problem. In August 2020, the camera stopped working because of a different anomaly. Before that, the mission suffered a glitch due to the failure of the gyroscope. The telescope began functioning normally after a week on that occasion.
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory was originally designed to serve only five years but has been working for over two decades.
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