NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is offline after a steering component failed

<em>NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, as seen from Space Shuttle Discovery</em>

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, famous for its brilliant pictures of the cosmos, is having some trouble in orbit around Earth. On Friday, an important mechanism on the spacecraft failed — one that is needed to re-orient the observatory in space and keep it pointed at parts of the sky for long periods of time. Now, Hubble is in a safe mode while engineers try to address the problem.

The broken mechanism on Hubble is a gyroscope, or a gyro. It’s a device the many spacecraft use to change their orientation in space. Gyros are essentially wheels inside the vehicle that spin, shifting the position of the spacecraft. It’s a key tool that Hubble uses to change its direction and look at different spots of the Universe, in order to observe…

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