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NASA's Broken Planet-hunter Spacecraft Given Second Life 55

coondoggie writes "NASA today said it would fund the technology fixes required to make its inoperative Kepler space telescope active again and able to hunt for new planets and galaxies. Kepler, you may recall, was rendered inoperable after the second of four gyroscope-like reaction wheels, which are used to precisely point the spacecraft for extended periods of time, failed last year, ending data collection for the original mission. The spacecraft required three working wheels to maintain the precision pointing necessary to detect the signal of small Earth-sized exoplanets."
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NASA's Broken Planet-hunter Spacecraft Given Second Life

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2014 @04:41PM (#47021049)

    It's great for NASA that Kepler will continue operating in the ecliptic plane, where the newly discovered exoplanets might also see the Earth transit the Sun!

    The bad news behind the headline is that Kepler's second life will be "community driven", which is a polite way of saying there is essentially no funding for science, just operations. The Senior Review Panel report [] (pdf) notes:

    "The operation of the nation's space borne observatories is so severely impacted by the current funding climate in Washington that ... American pre-eminence in the study of the Universe from space is threatened to the point of irreparable damage if additional funds cannot be found to fill the projected funding gaps."

    The response from NASA [] (pdf) acknowledges:

    "The Kepler mission extension is approved for FY 2015-FY 2016 for K2 operations at a 10-percent reduction from the requested level; the full request cannot be accommodated within the constrained budget conditions."

    If you love what Kepler has done, you can help support some of the scientists behind the discoveries through their Non-profit Adopt a Star [] program.

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