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NASA’s Swift Observatory again to observing gamma-ray bursts

NASA’s Swift Observatory, which investigates high-energy phenomena like gamma-ray bursts, has returned to operations following a problem which pressured it into protected mode final month.

“NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory efficiently returned to science operations Thursday, Feb. 17,” NASA wrote in a quick assertion. “The spacecraft and its three devices are wholesome and working as anticipated.”

An artist's rendering of the Swift spacecraft with a gamma-ray burst going off in the background.
An artist’s rendering of the Swift spacecraft with a gamma-ray burst going off within the background. Spectrum and NASA E/PO, Sonoma State College, Aurore Simonnet

NASA went on to substantiate that the observatory will proceed working utilizing 5 out of its six response wheels. The problem started in January this yr, when the observatory was pressured to droop its science operations. The telescope was routinely put into protected mode to stop any injury to its devices, which meant it operated solely its important features and didn’t accumulate any science information.

Early investigations confirmed that one of many spacecraft’s response wheels was the perpetrator for the problem. These response wheels work to maintain the telescope pointed in a single route, in order that it might precisely collect information on its targets. The telescope makes a speciality of detecting gamma-ray bursts, that are transient occasions lasting between a couple of minutes and some milliseconds, so the observatory has to react rapidly to watch them.

Following testing of the problem, NASA confirmed on the begin of February that the issue was certainly as a result of one of many response wheels. Based mostly on what gave the impression to be a mechanical problem, one wheel had failed. Nevertheless, it was nonetheless doable for the observatory to function utilizing simply 5 our of its six complete wheels. The crew determined to go forward with restarting the telescope utilizing 5 wheels, which is able to barely impede its response time however will permit it to proceed safely amassing information.

The brand new configuration has now been uploaded and the observatory is amassing information as soon as extra. “The spacecraft is now working utilizing 5 response wheels as a substitute of six, following a failure of a response wheel that brought on the observatory to enter protected mode on Jan. 18,” NASA wrote. “The crew is monitoring the spacecraft’s efficiency as Swift resumes its mission to review the high-energy universe.”

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