Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NASA's Planet-Hunting Kepler in Emergency Mode

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NASA's Planet-Hunting Kepler in Emergency Mode

Article excerpt

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA is trying to resuscitate its planet- hunting Kepler spacecraft, in a state of emergency nearly 75 million miles away. The treasured spacecraft - responsible for detecting nearly 5,000 planets outside our solar system - slipped into emergency mode sometime last week. The last regular contact was April 4; everything seemed normal then.

Ground controllers discovered the problem Thursday, right before they were going to point Kepler toward the center of the Milky Way as part of a new kind of planetary survey. Kepler was going to join ground observatories in surveying millions of stars in the heart of our galaxy, in hopes of finding planets far from their suns, like our own outer planets, as well as stray planets that might be wandering between stars.

Launched in 2009, the spacecraft completed its primary mission in 2012. …

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