Kepler Spacecraft recovers from recent glitch and is on track with its Planet-Hunting taskChris Middlebrooks (Author) Published Date : Apr 25, 2016 20:16 IST
NASA s Kepler had suffered a glitch on 8th of April and temporarily went out of action. However, handlers of the spacecraft have succeeded in removing the glitch and putting the spacecraft back on its mission of hunting for planets, according to an agency announcement on 22nd April. Hopefully, the two weeks break from work should add more energy to find more new planets.
The mission handlers at NASA stated that the spacecraft is now back to health for carrying out its science operations starting with its C9 or Campaign 9 which involves gravitational microlensing.
However, the reason why Kepler turned into the emergency mode is still unclear. According to NASA officials, the a transient event is indicated by the nature of the problem that triggered an array of false alarms, eventually overwhelming the system. The problem now appears to have been resolved through power-cycling of the onboard computers as well as the subsystems.
Team members handling the mission spent nearly two weeks investigating the malfunctioning simultaneously and bringing the observatory back on track.
Earlier too, Kepler had faced health issues. In 2013 May, the wheels of the spacecraft maintaining its orientation had failed, and the mission came to a halt. This defect was quickly identified, and the mission members stabilized Kepler in space itself by activating 2 of the six wheels and using sunlight pressure. In its subsequent mission, Kepler continued its hunt for alien planets, albeit on a limited scale than before. It also investigated a wide range of celestial phenomena and objects like the supernovas located at a significant distance as well as comets and asteroids found in the solar system of the Earth.
The activities of Kepler are divided into several 90-day campaigns. The latest campaign, campaign 9 focuses on finding exoplanets through a technique known as gravitational microlensing. The lensing effect is helpful in revealing the presence of those planets that orbit the foreground star.
Kepler was launched in March 2009 and has so far discovered as many as 1,041 alien planets apart from about 3,600 additional candidates.' According to estimates by members of the mission team, some 90% of the potential planets can be eventually confirmed through follow-up observations and analysis.
For now, there are about 2,000 known exoplanets and the number can vary depending on the database that is consulted.
Kepler Spacecraft recovers from recent glitch and is on track with its Planet-Hunting task