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Kepler telescope breaks down

Posted on Saturday, 18 May, 2013 | Comment icon 18 comments | News tip by: Waspie_Dwarf

Image credit: NASA

NASA's highly successful planet hunting orbital telescope has suffered a serious equipment failure.

The Kepler telescope has been crippled by a fault in one of the reaction wheels that help to point it in the correct direction. There are fears that unless engineers can find a way to either repair or work around the fault then the mission will be over. "I wouldn’t call Kepler down and out yet," said astronaut John Grunsfeld who helped repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Kepler has been one of the space agency's most successful missions, providing a window through which astronomers have identified a significant number of planets around distant star systems including two Earth-like worlds. If the telescope is indeed lost then it represents a substantial blow to the field for astronomers all over the world.

"NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has been shut down by the failure of one of the reaction wheels that keep it pointed, the space agency announced Wednesday."

  View: Full article |  Source: New York Times

  Discuss: View comments (18)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #9 Posted by Sundew on 20 May, 2013, 0:21
I have no idea of the altitudinal orbit of the telescope, but it's a shame that we are still not flying the Space Shuttle if it is within reach, after all they managed to repair the Hubble.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 20 May, 2013, 10:48
It's not in Earth orbit, it's in a 372.5 day "Earth trailing," solar orbit, so it would have been well out of reach of the shuttles.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Paranomali on 23 May, 2013, 2:00
Ah this really made me feel sad. They better fix it!
Comment icon #12 Posted by RingFenceTheCity on 28 May, 2013, 12:30
The same mystery force which gives the Earth's flyby 'equatorial extra acceleration anomaly' could also be responsible for the extra frictional effects on the wheels. Worth considering for such a potential loss. Fantastic work and congratulations NASA and the team for a job well done. Finger's crossed for a full recovery.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 May, 2013, 20:38
Why would it be worth considering a "mystery force" when wear and tear on moving parts which have been in service for over 4 years whilst designed for only 3.5 years is a much more likely answer? NASA's (who prefer to use data, logic and science rather than guess work and pure fantasy to come to their conclusions) have concluded that "there has been an internal failure within the reaction wheel, likely a structural failure of the wheel bearing." No need to go off into the realms of fantasy for this one.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Capt Amerika on 30 May, 2013, 17:04
The Greys realized we were just about to discover their home world and shut it down. NASA has the transmissions but wont release them.
Comment icon #15 Posted by NiteMarcher on 31 May, 2013, 0:56
Why did NASA invest 500 to 600 million for the Kepler telescope which would only last up to 3.5 years? I guess the military industrial complex willingly looks for ways to keep sucking up the tax payers money. With that kind of money invested, it should be lasting a good 20 yrs. plus. Could this have initially been planned some 3.5 years ago, in hopes that NASA during these economically harsh times could once again extend their hands out for another 600 million?
Comment icon #16 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 31 May, 2013, 1:31
Because that's how much missions like this cost. You can't just buy space telescopes off the shelf. They take years of planning, designing and building. Each component has to be individually made and tested. The $500-600 million compares well with other high-tech projects when you consider that the price includes design, development, manufacture, launch costs ($51 million alone), operational costs and the costs of the data processing. Compare that to the B2 stealth bomber which has cost total programme cost of $2.13 billion per aircraft {Source: ) Keep guessing, y... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by NiteMarcher on 1 June, 2013, 2:57
I really don't think wasting tax payer's money should be considered as nonsensical drivel....when infrastructure such as highways, school buildings, etc. throughout the entire US is slowly falling to pieces under our feet. We have Social programs for the elderly, for children at risk etc. We need to take care of what's going on back here on our own soil with tax payer's money...not take care of what's going on in outer space...this is reality!
Comment icon #18 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 5 June, 2013, 15:29
If you consider science and exploration a waste of money then fine, start a topic on it rather than taking this one off topic.

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