“Analysis of available data indicates the transition to safe mode was normal behavior for such an event. All systems functioned as expected and the scientific instruments are safe,” NASA said. Chandra is designed to make X-ray observations of distant space features, including quasars, supernovas and black holes. It has long outlived its expected original mission being now 19 years old and was originally designed to function for five years. A second NASA satellite is offline following a hardware failure.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory
Both Hubble and Chandra are part of NASA’s Great Observatories program. Chandra doesn’t get as much attention as Hubble, but it’s a vitally important scientific instrument. It uses a series of angled mirrors to concentrate X-rays on its detection instruments to detect signals 100 times more faint than past X-ray telescopes. NASA is still looking into the cause, but the team currently believes one of the spacecraft’s gyroscopes has failed. It’s possible NASA will have enough functional hardware to get it fully functional again. Chandra and Hubble aren’t the only famous NASA spacecraft dealing with some issues. The planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, which has found about 70 percent of all known alien worlds to date, is almost out of fuel. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015, is also nearly out of fuel; it could run out as early as this month.