Latest Issue of Science News


News

Observatory on a suicide mission

In the interest of safety, NASA has decided to plunge a spacecraft into the Pacific Ocean.

Late last year, one of the three gyroscopes on the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO) failed, leaving the satellite with the minimum number necessary to steer the craft. The space agency wants to direct the craft back through Earth's atmosphere in a controlled manner, while the two other gyros still function.

So on May 26, after 9 years of mapping the gamma-ray sky, GRO will close up shop. Engineers then will fire the craft's thrusters, slowing the satellite and causing it to lose altitude. If all goes according to plan, GRO will reenter the atmosphere in early June.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

X
This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.