Another NASA space telescope has shut down and halted science observations.
Less than a week after the Hubble Space Telescope went offline, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has shut itself down. The US space agency said on Friday that Chandra has automatically went into so-called safe mode on Wednesday, possibly because of a gyroscope problem.
A gyroscope is a device used to point and stabilize the observatory. Hubble went into hibernation last Friday due to a gyroscope failure.
Both orbiting observatories are old and in well-extended missions: Hubble is 28, while Chandra is 19. Flight controllers are working to resume operations with both.
NASA said it’s coincidental both went “asleep” within a week of one another. An astronomer who works on Chandra, Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted on Friday that “Chandra decided that if Hubble could have a little vacation, it wanted one, too.”
Launched by space shuttles in the 1990s, Hubble and Chandra are part of NASA’s Great Observatories series. The others are the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, which was also launched in the 1990s but eventually failed and was destroyed, and the Spitzer Space Telescope, launched in 2003 and is still working. Each was intended to observe the cosmos in different wavelengths.