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Kepler Telescope Problems


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Earlier this week Nasa personnel found that the Kepler Telescope was placing itself in safe mode due to a mechanical failure. It is not yet know whether this telescope which has been used to find planets (132 so far) around stars other than our own Sol will be able to be fixed.




Star Cluster NGC 6791 from Kepler First Light Image


Wired Article where I first read


Gruaniads Science Article


Official from Nasa

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  • 3 months later...

It's official. On August 15, 2013, NASA reports that it gives up on repairing the Kepler telescope... sad.png


Following months of analysis and testing, the Kepler Space Telescope team is ending its attempts to restore the spacecraft to full working order, and now is considering what new science research it can carry out in its current condition.


Two of Kepler's four gyroscope-like reaction wheels, which are used to precisely point the spacecraft, have failed. The first was lost in July 2012, and the second in May. Engineers' efforts to restore at least one of the wheels have been unsuccessful.


Kepler completed its prime mission in November 2012 and began its four-year extended mission at that time. However, the spacecraft needs three functioning wheels to continue its search for Earth-sized exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, orbiting stars like our sun in what's known as the habitable zone -- the range of distances from a star where the surface temperature of a planet might be suitable for liquid water. As scientists analyze previously collected data, the Kepler team also is looking into whether the space telescope can conduct a different type of science program, potentially including an exoplanet search, using the remaining two good reaction wheels and thrusters.


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I am wondering if there are implications from this for other telescopes, such as the James Webb, that are designed for orbital stationing instead of on a solid surface. . .


The decision to end Kepler's extended mission was economic at root. Orbiting telescopes cannot be accessed by humans without billion dollar space launches. A telescope mounted on a solid, stable surface such as the Moon or, my personal favorite, Mercury, would be accessible at a fraction of the cost. Just sayin'. . .

Edited by Moonguy
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