NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Spacecraft in emergency mode (Update)

NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Spacecraft in emergency mode
An undated artists concept provided by NASA shows the Keplar Spacecraft moving through space. On April 10, 2016, NASA is trying to resuscitate its planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, in a state of emergency 75 million miles away. The treasured spacecraft, responsible for detecting nearly 5,000 planets outside our solar system, slipped into emergency mode sometime last week. The last normal contact was April 4. Ground controllers discovered the problem right before they were going to point Kepler toward the center of the Milky Way. (AP Photo/NASA)

NASA is trying to resuscitate its planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, in a state of emergency nearly 75 million miles away.

The treasured spacecraft—responsible for detecting nearly 5,000 planets outside our solar system—slipped into emergency mode sometime last week. The last regular contact was April 4; everything seemed normal then.

Ground controllers discovered the problem Thursday, right before they were going to point Kepler toward the center of the Milky Way as part of a new kind of planetary survey. Kepler was going to join ground observatories in surveying millions of stars in the heart of our galaxy, in hopes of finding planets far from their suns, like our own outer planets, as well as stray planets that might be wandering between stars.

This is the latest crisis in the life of Kepler.

Launched in 2009, the spacecraft completed its primary mission in 2012. Despite repeated breakdowns, Kepler kept going on an extended mission dubbed K2—until now. The vast 75 million-mile distance between Kepler and Earth make it all the harder to fix.

"Even at the speed of light, it takes 13 minutes for a signal to travel to the spacecraft and back," mission manager Charlie Sobeck said in a weekend web update from NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

Recovering from this emergency condition "is the team's priority at this time," Sobeck said.

More than 1,000 of Kepler's detected 5,000 exoplanets have been confirmed to date, according to NASA.

Kepler is named after the 17th century German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler.


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NASA tries to save planet-hunting telescope

More information: NASA: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/main/index.html

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Citation: NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Spacecraft in emergency mode (Update) (2016, April 10) retrieved 16 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-04-nasa-planet-hunting-kepler-spacecraft-emergency.html
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Apr 12, 2016
Then it broke down and the whole program had to be thrown out. K2 is what they call the "new ...

Apr 12, 2016
NASA has been bungling from its founding. Look up the Vanguard I satellite! Early sixties of the last century it was our grapefruit sized shiny bauble answer to Russia's Sputnik. Be cute to say USSR or Soviet, but it's soul was always Russia for creative effort... Sputnik was the baby of Sergei Korelev, the father of Russian rocket science. He had some help from German rocketeers but the heart of the Sputnik project was Russian. American effort was an extension of the Nazi regime with slavemaster Von Braun heading it up. Vanguard and its failed rocket was an extension of the Nazi V-2 program.

We DID launch it finally, but with totally American Atlas rocket. After that the old Nazis were retired, best thing that ever happened.

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