The vaunted Kepler Spacecraft, responsible for the discovery of hundreds of exoplanets, has experienced the failure of it’s final reaction wheel. The spacecraft has four reaction wheels and needs at least three to function properly. The reaction wheels are used to point the spacecraft without using thrusters. This is so that the fuel can be conserved as the reaction wheels use only electricity where as the thrusters use the finite fuel on board. Reaction wheel number 2 had failed a few years ago, leaving the minimum number of three available. Recently reaction wheel number 4 had shown signs of failure. There were current spikes indicating a problem with the wheel bearings. Controllers took some proactive measures, trying to redistribute some of the lubricant in the hopes of prolonging the life of this wheel. Unfortunately on May 14th the spacecraft had placed itself in thruster-Controlled Safe Mode, the second time this month. While recovering the spacecraft reaction wheel 4 remained at full torque while the spin rate dropped to zero. A clear indication that there has [...]
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The University of Washington has announced the discovery of a new planet which could harbor life. Astronomers led by Sarah Ballard added this new planet named Kepler 61b. It is orbiting near the inner edge of the habitable zone around it’s sun. The habitable zone is a small area around a star where the temperature is suitable for liquid water. The temperature of Kepler 61b is estimated to be approximately 40 degrees Celsius if it has an atmosphere like Earth. At 2.15 the size of Earth the planet orbits it’s sun every 60 days. This new planet receives about 32% more light than the Earth does from our sun. It is currently ranked number 6 in the planets most like earth by the Planetary Habitability Laboratory. The Kepler spacecraft recently experienced an issue with one of it’s reaction wheels which are used to point the spacecraft for observations. The Kepler spacecraft is currently functioning properly on three of it’s four reaction wheels. One of the reaction wheels had failed previously leaving the minimum needed of three. If the wheel fails which caused the safe mode [...]
The Kepler Telescope has found three more Earth like planets in two solar systems. The new Kepler-62 system has five planets 62b-f. Kepler-69 system has two planets 69b and c. Larger super Earth sized planets found include Kepler-62e-f and 69c. In the Kepler-62 system has a a sun smaller and cooler than our own but two planets orbit are in the habitability zone which could possibly support life. The new exoplanets are called, Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f. Kepler-62e is thus far the most Earth-like exoplanet found so far. [adrotate group="1"] Kepler-69c was also announced by NASA to be in the habitable zone but it did not meet the guidelines of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory which defines the criteria needed to possible support life. . Kepler-69c is 70 percent larger than the size of Earth, and orbits a star similar to our sun. It has an orbit of 242 days around a sun-like star in an orbit which resembles that of planet Venus.