Following months of analysis and testing, According to a release, two of Kepler's four gyroscope-like reaction wheels, which are used to precisely point the spacecraft, have failed. One was lost in
"Kepler has made extraordinary discoveries in finding exoplanets including several super-Earths in the habitable zone," said
"At the beginning of our mission, no one knew if Earth-size planets were abundant in the galaxy. If they were rare, we might be alone," said
An engineering study will be conducted on the modifications required to manage science operations with the spacecraft using a combination of its remaining two good reaction wheels and thrusters for spacecraft attitude control.
Informed by contributions from the broader science community in response to the call for scientific white papers, the group noted that the Kepler project team will perform a study to identify possible science opportunities for a two-wheel Kepler mission.
Depending on the outcome of these studies, which are expected to be completed later this year,
From the data collected in the first half of its mission, Kepler has confirmed 135 exoplanets and identified over 3,500 candidates. The team continues to analyze all four years of collected data, expecting hundreds, if not thousands, of new discoveries including the long-awaited Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of sun- like stars. Though the spacecraft will no longer operate with its precision pointing, scientists expect Kepler's most interesting discoveries are still to come.
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Following months of analysis and testing,
According to a release, two of Kepler's four gyroscope-like reaction wheels, which are used to precisely point the spacecraft, have failed. One was lost in