Kepler Planet-Hunter is Healthy and Back!

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I mentioned in my previous post the detection of an issue on the Kepler spacecraft which pushed the engineering team to put the space telescope in safe mode for 10 days. The Kepler team announced today that science operation was reinitiated yesterday. That’s a great news!

Kepler Spacecraft and Photometer (credit: NASA)

On January 17, the team detected some recurrent frictions on the reaction wheel #4, since its complete failure would have mean the end of the mission, the telescope scientific operation was halted. Because in  its safe mode configuration, the spacecraft maintains its altitude using its thrusters only, the reaction wheels stop spinning and the lubricant got a chance to spread uniformly inside the wheels, returning the spacecraft to nominal operation. The engineering team took this decision by scrutinizing the activity on the wheels after one of them failed in July 2012.

The transition from safe mode to normal operation happened without any issues and Kepler telescope started collecting data again on January 28 at 5 pm PST. This is a great job done by Kepler engineers which reminds us the challenges of space exploration.

I am confident that more exoplanet discoveries are on the way, and this good news is a relief for the community of exo-planetary astronomers and their friends.

Live long and prosper Kepler!

Clear Skies

Franck Marchis

 

 

 

About Franck Marchis

Dr. Franck Marchis is a Researcher at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute since July 2007. Over the past 15 years, he has dedicated his research to the study of our solar system using mainly ground-based telescopes equipped with adaptive optics. More recently he has been also involved in the definition of new generation of AOs for 8 -10 m class telescopes and future Extremely Large Telescopes. He has developed algorithms to process and enhance the quality of images, both astronomical and biological, using fluorescence microscopy. His currently involved in the development of the Gemini Planet Imager, an extreme AO system for the Gemini South telescope which will be capable of imaging and record spectra of exoplanets orbiting around nearby stars.

2 Responses to Kepler Planet-Hunter is Healthy and Back!

  1. […] Kepler Planet-Hunter is Healthy and Back! | Franck Marchis Blog On January 17, the team detected some recurrent frictions on the reaction wheel #4, since its complete failure would have mean the end of the mission, the telescope scientific operation was halted. Be… […]

  2. Like an injury to — or the advancing age of — your favorite athletes (Robert Griffin III and Roger Federer, respectively) you hope they’ll come back and show they’ve still got it. But your optimism is guarded until that next big win. Go KEPLER!

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