NASA’s Swift Observatory in Safe Mode – Team Investigating Possible Reaction Wheel Failure

NASA Swift Spacecraft

An artist’s rendering of the Swift Observatory with a gamma-ray burst going off in the background. Credit: Spectrum and NASA E/PO, Sonoma State University, Aurore Simonnet

On the evening of Tuesday, January 18, 2022, NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory entered into safe mode, suspending pointed science observations. The mission team is investigating a possible failure of one of the spacecraft’s reaction wheels as the cause.

The team has powered off the suspected wheel. The observatory and all its instruments are otherwise healthy and operating as anticipated. The observatory will remain in safe mode as a precaution while the team further investigates the issue.

Swift has a total of six reaction wheels onboard. The team is working to restore science operations using five reaction wheels. The remaining five wheels are all working as expected. This is the first time a reaction wheel has experienced a failure in Swift’s 17 years of operations.

Swift studies high-energy events in the universe such as gamma ray bursts, which may come from black holes being born from dying stars.

4 Comments on "NASA’s Swift Observatory in Safe Mode – Team Investigating Possible Reaction Wheel Failure"

  1. Hmmnn..

    I am sure that Scintists and Technologiists will figure out what causedthe failure and fix it.

    Triggerred a thought on wheather itis possible to minimise the number of mechanical moving parts which are subject to wear and tear thanks to stress. This would automatically reduce the chances of failure.

    On other matters related to Black Holes , have always wondered about the handedness i.e. Chirality of these, and whether the same has a bearing on whether they repel each other or attarct each other, to merge and become a bigger Black Hole.

    Views expressed are personal and not binding on anyone.

  2. 🥼🤓🤭brake time there’s another telescope 🔭 Webb heard it.🎓💎🎼🗣football 🍕🍔🍟🥪🍻🏈playoffs 🎟🏈🗽🌞⛱swift someone will figure out the not working wheel🛴🛹🏎🚜🏍🛵🚲🛺🦼🦽🚘🚖🚔🚓🚛🚚

  3. We could surmise and guess what a reaction wheel is and what it does. Call me old school that a competent reporter might explain to his audience not that something failed, but describe what that thing is that failed and what it does. It sounds like the author knows what he is talking about, but I would think the audience is the point.
    Constructive criticism 🙂

  4. kamir bouchareb st | January 24, 2022 at 12:01 am | Reply


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