Close

Search

Search Menu
Photonics Media Photonics Buyers' Guide Photonics EDU Photonics Spectra BioPhotonics EuroPhotonics Industrial Photonics Photonics Showcase Photonics ProdSpec Photonics Handbook
More News
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT
2016 Photonics Buyers' Guide Clearance! – Use Coupon Code FC16 to save 60%!
share
Email Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Comments

Satellite Spins out of Control

Photonics Spectra
Apr 1999
A recently launched satellite spun out of control March 5, leaving NASA officials scrambling to find a way to salvage the $67 million mission. The Wide-Field Infrared Explorer satellite apparently began spinning as a result of hydrogen gas venting from a cryogenic system needed to keep the onboard telescope cold. The escaping gas acted as a thruster, propelling the spacecraft into an unrecoverable spin.

NASA officials are not sure why the hydrogen began melting, but some have theorized that a telescope cover may have ejected prematurely, exposing the system to direct sunlight. The satellite does not have thrusters of its own; less powerful magnetic torque wheels gently steer the spacecraft.
The aim of the mission was to help scientists better understand how and why galaxies formed. The craft is equipped with a 12.5-in. Cassegrain telescope with IR detectors.



Comments
Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy About Us Contact Us
back to top

Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn YouTube RSS
©2016 Photonics Media
x Subscribe to Photonics Spectra magazine - FREE!