Kepler Has Problems

kepler prob


The space telescope Kepler has problems. In order to control and point the telescope with extreme precision a control system involving gyro reaction wheels and special jet motors are used  Now two of the gyros have failed. This threatens further observations.

On May 11 gyro number 4 failed which meant that Kepler automatically entered what is known as "safe mode". That stopped all observations. After a few days engineers succeeded in getting Kepler into a more fuel-saving mode.

NASA is now busy trying to find alternative methods to obtain exect pointing of the telescope. There is experience from other space projects. The same problem afflicted the IUE satellite in the 1980s. Using a host of various tricks and reprogrammings they were able circumvent the problem for a long time. NASA:s information is here and here.

At the same time is reported that analysis of previous data has uncovered a number of further exoplanet candidates. The total number now is 3216.