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Engineers determine failed gyroscope caused Gehrels-Swift shutdown

Engineers have now determined that the failure of one of the six reaction wheels that point the orbiting Gehrels-Swift Observatory was the cause of its shutdown into safe mode on January 18th, and are now reconfiguring the space telescope to operate with only five gyroscopes.

The team is currently testing the settings for operating the spacecraft using the five operational reaction wheels. After the tests for these settings have been completed, they plan to upload them to the spacecraft next week.

Swift can fully carry out its science mission with five wheels. After careful analysis, the team has determined that the five-wheel configuration will minimally impact the movements necessary for Swift to make science observations. The team expects the change will slightly delay the spacecraft’s initial response time when responding to onboard gamma-ray burst triggers, but this will not impact Swift’s ability to make these observations and meet its original operational requirements.

Only after getting Gehrels-Swift operating again will the engineers then consider trying to recover the failed reaction wheel.

Gehrels-Swift was one of the key space telescopes that made it possible for astronomers to solve the mystery of gamma ray bursts. It is also used today to help identify the source of mysteries like fast radio bursts and other supernovae events. It was designed to quickly begin observing in multiple wavelengths any spot in the sky where a mystery burst or new supernova has occurred, thus getting astronomers the earliest new data possible.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • George C

    I think in your headline you meant to say reaction wheel, not gyroscope. Confusing because those wheels do have a side effect of exhibiting the gyroscopic effect; they primarily function as reaction wheels, as an engineering function. The inertial navigation system might have things an engineer would call a gyroscope.

    I am not saying that a reaction wheel is not
    a gyroscope of course since it clearly is, but its role in the momentum dynamics is the dominant engineering role, and reaction wheel describes that better.

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