NASA’s Planet-Hunting Spacecraft Kepler Wakes Up Again

Posted: Sep 7 2018, 9:25am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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NASA’s Planet-Hunting Spacecraft Kepler Wakes up Again
Credit: NASA

NASA continues to monitor the health and performance of the spacecraft.

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has resumed its science operations after coming out of sleep mode. The spacecraft was placed in a hibernation-like state late last month. During that time, researchers successfully downloaded the science data collected in its most recent observation campaign.

Kepler has already completed 18 campaigns and has been on its 19th observation campaign since August 29.

“The Kepler spacecraft began collecting science data on Aug. 29 for its 19th observation campaign. After being roused from sleep mode the spacecraft's configuration has been modified due to unusual behavior exhibited by one of the thrusters. Preliminary indications are that the telescope's pointing performance may be somewhat degraded. It remains unclear how much fuel remains; NASA continues to monitor the health and performance of the spacecraft.” NASA wrote in a brief update.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft began hunting for planets outside our solar system in 2009. Of particular interest was potentially habitable, Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting in the habitable zone of other stars. Kepler finished its primary mission in 2013. During the four-year mission, the spacecraft continuously looked for the dips in the brightness of stars that would indicate the presence of a planet around them.

In 2013, a mechanical failure brought an end to Kepler's original mission, but the spacecraft kept going on an extended mission called K2. Collectively, both missions have discovered nearly 3,000 confirmed exoplanets and as many potential candidates.

Kepler survived many breakdowns and technical problems throughout its nine years but the spacecraft is now almost out of fuel and researchers estimate that its fuel tank will run dry within months. NASA is aiming to collect as much science data as possible in its remaining time and send it back to Earth before they lose contact with spacecraft.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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