Scientists and engineers who work with the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer have pulled off a second daring and unprecedented rescue of the satellite observatory from serious guidance problems. This time, though, they didn´t actually wait for the guidance problems to happen.
In response to hints of the potential for future new difficulties with FUSE´s gyroscopes, which are used to check the satellite´s pointing accuracy, researchers redesigned software for three computers aboard FUSE and recently uploaded the new software to the computers.
The staff of FUSE, operated for NASA by Johns Hopkins University, compared the feat to a "brain transplant." They currently maintain detailed control of FUSE´s precise orientation through the gyros´ ability to sense even very small shifts in the satellite´s position. If too many of the gyros stop working, however, the new software will allow controllers to switch over to using the fine error sensor, a camera aboard FUSE, in their place. In the new guidance mode, detailed information on where FUSE is pointing will be determined via the positions of key stars imaged in the fine error sensor.
Michael Purdy | EurekAlert!
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