The most powerful telescopes on Earth are beginning to show the tension of decades of use and will soon cease to function completely.
The astronomical observatories such as Hubble and Chandra were placed in orbit several years ago and since then they have provided us with impressive images and valuable data.
These wonderful machines, which have been invaluable in advancing modern science, are deteriorating with age and NASA has no plans to replace the unhealthy technology.
They were developed to help map distant galaxies, look inside black holes and locate new planets, but astronomers fear that their eyes in the sky may soon darken.
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The Hubble telescope (pictured) was launched in 1990 and NASA expects it to remain operational in the year 2020. It studies visible and nearby UV light and there is no clear successor aligned to replace it. Failed and went into sleep mode earlier this week.
"The unwillingness to invest in substantial science has begun to worry us," astrophysicist Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which operates the Hubble telescope on behalf of NASA, told The Washington Post.
& # 39; We are facing a very discouraging perspective as a community. Some fields simply will not have a telescope. And science can not be done in another way & # 39;
Funding for the successors of these marquee telescopes has not yet been secured, and Paul Hertz, director of NASA's astrophysics division, said it is an "election for the nation."
"The missions we do will be influenced by the priorities of the community, as well as by the financing options made by the political system," he added.
Hubble was launched in 1990 and, earlier this month, it malfunctioned, stopped work and reinforced the scientists who are totally dependent on the 28-year-old machine, how reliable they are of the technology designed for the first time in the decade of 70's.
The Chandra X-ray telescope is in its twentieth year of operation and has exceeded its projected operating life in almost 15 years.
Chandra automatically entered the so-called safe mode earlier this month, due to a gyroscope problem.
"The cause of Chandra's safe mode on October 10 has now been understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the ship to its normal aiming mode," NASA said.
He claimed that the safe mode was caused by a fault in one of Chandra's gyroscopes that resulted in a three-second period of erroneous data that, in turn, led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the impulse of the spaceship.
The wrong moment indication activated the safe mode.
"The team has completed the plans to change the gyroscopes and place the gyroscope that experienced the failure in the reserve," NASA said.
Hubble went into hibernation due to a similar gyroscope failure.
WHAT IS THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE?
The Hubble telescope was launched on April 24, 1990, through the space shuttle Discovery of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
It is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble, who was born in Missouri in 1889.
It could be said that he is most famous for discovering that the universe is expanding and the speed at which he does it, now the Hubble constant was coined.
Hubble has made more than 1.3 million observations since it began its mission in 1990 and helped publish more than 15,000 scientific articles.
The Hubble telescope is named after Edwin Hubble, who was responsible for creating the Hubble constant and is one of the greatest astronomers of all time.
It orbits the Earth at a speed of approximately 17,000 mph in low Earth orbit at approximately 340 miles altitude.
Hubble has the precision of aiming at .007 seconds of arc, which is like being able to shine a laser beam centered on Franklin D. Roosevelt's head on a dime about 200 miles away.
Hubble's primary mirror is 2.4 meters (7 feet, 10.5 inches) wide and, in total, is 13.3 meters (43.5 feet) long, the length of a large school bus.
NASA says that the problems with Chandra have been resolved, but it still has little fuel and it is not clear how long it will continue to work.
The space agency says it's a coincidence that both Chandra and Hubble have "fallen asleep" one week after the other.
& # 39; Continues to work to resume the scientific operations of the Hubble Space Telescope after the ship entered safe mode due to a gyroscope (gyroscope) failed. & # 39;
An astronomer working at Chandra, Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Center, tweeted Friday that "Chandra decided that if Hubble could have a little vacation, he also wanted one."
The political giant in the US UU It provided NASA with ample resources and financial support to launch and sustain the Grand Observatory program in the 1970s.
The Chandra X-ray telescope (pictured) is in its twentieth year of operation and has exceeded its projected operating life of almost 15 years
Four telescopes were designed and built to measure the entire spectrum of light from gamma rays (Compton Gamma Ray Observatory) to infrared radiation (the Spitzer Space Telescope).
The other two telescopes in this program, Hubble and Chandra, analyze visible / near-ultraviolet light and X-rays, respectively.
Among them, they would find and help to unravel the mysteries behind the most energetic explosions in the universe, black holes, exoplanets, newborn stars and the discovery of the age of the universe.
Compton died in 2001 after a gyroscope problem rendered him useless and Spitzer is expected to die next year.
NASA expects the two remaining telescopes to continue working in the 2020s.
"People suddenly realized that Hubble is not going to live forever," said Tom Brown, head of the Hubble mission at the Space Telescope Science Institute.
When Hubble fails, there will be no visible or ultraviolet telescopes on that scale.
This, says Dr. Brown, is leading scientists to wonder what will happen next.
The James Webb telescope will study infrared radiation in space, but has been affected by delays and errors that have delayed the launch date until 2021.
As with the visible light spectrum, there are no NASA plans to replace Chandra and further study the wavelength of light X-rays.
Gamma-ray astrophysicist Julie McInery, project scientist for Fermi, Compton's smallest successor, said: "You must have a minimum level of activity in any area of the telescope to maintain the community experience so you can continue to build instruments." .