Monday, April 11, 2016

Following a near-loss late last week, NASA has revived the Kepler Space Telescope

Late last week, NASA’s Kepler Telescope entered emergency mode with virtually no warning. The space agency finally revived the space telescope on Sunday, and now engineers will spend the next several weeks trying to figure out what exactly went wrong.

NASA reports that mission operations engineers successfully recovered the Kepler spacecraft from Emergency Mode (EM), with the spacecraft now in a “stable” state. The communication antenna is pointed toward Earth, enabling telemetry and event data to be downloaded. NASA plans to dig through that data before determining if Kepler is “healthy enough” to get back to work scoping out the center of the Milky Way in an effort to find new planets.

“It was the quick response and determination of the engineers throughout the weekend that led to the recovery. We are deeply appreciative of their efforts, and for the outpouring of support from the mission's fans and followers from around the world,” Charlie Sobeck ,
Kepler and K2 mission manager, said. “We also recognize the tremendous support from NASA’s Deep Space Network, managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and to NASA’s other missions that surrendered their scheduled telemetry links in order to provide us with the resources needed to protect the Kepler spacecraft.”

The space agency notes this bizarre emergency mode event is the first that the Kepler spacecraft has encountered during its seven years in space. Here’s hoping NASA can figure out the cause, so it can hopefully be fixed and avoided in the future. It’d be a shame for that $550 million piece of space tech to go be bricked because of a software glitch.