NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting space telescope wakes up again


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The Kepler wake-up whipsaw continues.

NASA’s Kepler area telescope, which has found greater than 2,650 alien planets so far, emerged from yet one more slumber Thursday (Oct. 11), company officers mentioned.

Kepler has been working very low on gasoline for some time now. So, mission workforce members have put the spacecraft to sleep a number of instances over the previous few months in an effort to make sure there’s sufficient propellant left for Kepler to orient towards Earth and beam its newest batches of knowledge dwelling. [Gallery: A World of Kepler Planets]

Such relays are solely potential throughout sure home windows. The Kepler workforce depends on NASA’s Deep House Community to catch the incoming information and should share this technique of huge radio dishes with different company missions.

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The $600 million Kepler mission launched in March 2009. Initially, the spacecraft stared at greater than 150,000 stars concurrently, waiting for tiny brightness dips that would point out the passage of orbiting planets throughout these stars’ faces.

In Could 2013, the second of Kepler’s 4 orientation-maintaining response wheels failed, bringing an finish to the observatory’s authentic mission. However Kepler’s handlers found out a approach to stabilize the spacecraft utilizing the remaining wheels and daylight stress, and Kepler quickly launched into an prolonged mission known as K2.

Throughout K2, Kepler has been trying to find exoplanets and observing quite a lot of different objects and phenomena, over the course of shifting 80-day campaigns. Kepler started gathering information for the most recent one, Marketing campaign 19, on Aug. 29. However the mission workforce put the observatory to sleep lower than a month later after noticing that Kepler’s pointing skill had degraded.

“We’re nonetheless monitoring the well being of the spacecraft whereas working in the direction of downloading information from Marketing campaign 19,” NASA officers wrote in an replace at this time (Oct. 12).

Refueling Kepler just isn’t an possibility. The observatory — which is accountable for about 70 % of all exoplanet discoveries so far — orbits the solar and is tens of millions of miles from Earth.

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