Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (Voice of Russia) Jun 10, 2014
NASA's Kepler spacecraft is now fully operational for its new "Second Light" K2 mission. The telescope specializing in seeking planets outside of the solar system suffered a major malfunction last year, but scientists adapted it for use in another way.
Kepler was originally launched in 2009. The $600 million Sun-orbiting space telescope discovered more than 3,800 potential exoplanets over the next four years, with 960 of those confirmed as such by follow-up studies.
In May 2013, a second of the four reaction wheels broke on the spacecraft. These devices are used to control attitude and in case of Kepler keeping the telescope pointed steadily at a star waiting for small flickers of light indicating a planet passing across it. Kepler needed at least three to operate properly, so the loss meant that it could no longer collect scientific data.
But scientists in November 2013 announced a plan to give a second life to the spacecraft by using the two remaining wheels and thrusters. The K2 mission, dubbed "Second Light," involves the telescope using the pressure of the Sun's light to rotate the craft in place of the failed wheel.
This means that that engineers have to keep Kepler's faceted side in a way that would make light's pressure even and not making it spin.
It also can no longer keep looking at the same point in the sky constantly as it used to, because Kepler has to be rotated regularly to avoid sunlight from entering it and damaging the sensor array. But thanks to a wide field of view the telescope can still bring much data about the stars close enough to our own system.
NASA got funding to extend Kepler's mission in May. Now the telescope is fully operational and ready for a series of 83-day observation campaigns, the US space agency says on its website.
Source: Voice of Russia
Kepler at NASA
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|