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Sat Apr 9, 2016, 07:02 PM

NASA scrambles as Kepler telescope goes into 'emergency mode'

Source: Christian Science Monitor

The Kepler spaceship is in trouble again, and NASA scientists are diligently working to find creative fixes for a telescope flying three times further away from Earth than Venus.

NASA received a transmission on Thursday that Kepler space telescope had entered "emergency mode," according to a NASA statement. The spacecraft had switched to its maximum power setting 36 hours earlier, just as it readied for a readjustment to point towards the Milky Way galaxy center.

This transmission is not the first to send NASA scientists scrambling to find a fix during a Kepler mission. But emergency mode will force Kepler to burn quickly through its power supply, so mission control engineers for NASA's Deep Space Network in California have a tight deadline to save the $600 million spaceship.

One major challenge to fixing a spacecraft mid-mission is the remoteness of the work. No extra materials will become available to aid repair, and scientists can use only the models they have on the ground and the reports they receive. Fixing Kepler is especially difficult because its mission has taken it so far from Earth, even for a spaceship. At a distance of 75 million miles from Earth, even light-speed transmissions take 13 minutes to travel roundtrip from Kepler to its home base at NASA and back.

Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0409/NASA-scrambles-as-Kepler-telescope-goes-into-emergency-mode

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply NASA scrambles as Kepler telescope goes into 'emergency mode' (Original post)
Calista241 Apr 2016 OP
PJMcK Apr 2016 #1
Cassiopeia Apr 2016 #2
SoLeftIAmRight Apr 2016 #5
Cassiopeia Apr 2016 #6
SoLeftIAmRight Apr 2016 #7
Cassiopeia Apr 2016 #8
PJMcK Apr 2016 #10
Cassiopeia Apr 2016 #12
keithbvadu2 Apr 2016 #3
Cassiopeia Apr 2016 #13
backscatter712 Apr 2016 #14
Cassiopeia Apr 2016 #15
reACTIONary Apr 2016 #20
Spitfire of ATJ Apr 2016 #4
Thespian2 Apr 2016 #9
reACTIONary Apr 2016 #11
Baclava Apr 2016 #18
Thor_MN Apr 2016 #16
Baclava Apr 2016 #19
navarth Apr 2016 #17
Matthew28 Apr 2016 #22
Eugene Apr 2016 #21
Baclava Apr 2016 #23

Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 07:42 PM

1. Hard science is hard

This is disappointing news although I'm hopeful that the NASA scientists will attempt everything possible to continue this exciting mission. Nonetheless, thanks for posting this news, Calista241.

As our knowledge of the cosmos expands, it becomes increasingly difficult to devise experiments and observational platforms to study esoteric ideas and theories. Not only does it cost a lot of money but the endeavors strain the human minds behind the projects. And since the experiments are created by humans, inevitably some failures will occur. I truly hope NASA can bring the Kepler space telescope back online. The knowledge to be gained may be extraordinary!

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 08:01 PM

2. It doesn't cost all that much in the grand scheme of things.

It's just been the whipping post of so many politicians for so long people actually think it just flushes trillions down the toilet.

For instance a manned mission to mars is projected to cost around a 100 billion over 30+ years. The same amount 14 weeks of war in Iraq cost in 2003.

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Response to Cassiopeia (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 08:22 PM

5. Many Many Thanks

 

those trillions - damn - what could have been done

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Response to SoLeftIAmRight (Reply #5)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 08:27 PM

6. It's not just those spent trillions.

It's the trillions never rightfully collected from the 1% as well. It's the billions we waste everywhere else, like handouts to the il and pharma industries..... The list is endless of our waste, but NASA is blamed for waste which is probably one of the most tightly waste free organizations in the US.

That people get combative over the pennies we give NASA, while they ignore the real beast standing right in front of them is sad.

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Response to Cassiopeia (Reply #6)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 08:31 PM

7. go go go

 

I smile big

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Response to SoLeftIAmRight (Reply #7)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 08:40 PM

8. love the sig line.

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Response to Cassiopeia (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 09:14 PM

10. Yeah, the money

You're absolutely correct, Caaiopeia. The cost of the combined space programs is infinitesimal when compared to the Defense budget. And the manned space program has always been inspirational. Humans walking on other spacial bodies! What a thrill.

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #10)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 09:22 PM

12. It's all of it (handouts that is)

We give billions in tax breaks and subsidies to corporations that could fund 30 years of NASA's budget with a single year of profits.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 08:07 PM

3. Not only do they have to design it to work, they have to

design it for remote repairs and enough redundancy to bypass things that could go wrong on earth for a five minute replacement of the part.

Is it designed well enough for self repairs?

Maybe we'll know in 13 minutes.

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Response to keithbvadu2 (Reply #3)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 09:26 PM

13. Years ago, when the Pentium class chip

was considered outdated I heard a program on the 2 rovers on Mars.

Long story short they have 286 class chipsets in them and the interviewer asked why such an old chip was used. The answer, we've had it for over a decade, we've worked out all the bugs that it could have and know how to fix them. It's not like we can send a tech out to fix it if it breaks down.

I'm hopeful and mostly positive that this will be just one of many issues Kepler has and they will work through them.

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Response to Cassiopeia (Reply #13)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 09:46 PM

14. That's the story of any processor designed for space.

The Curiosity rover uses a PowerPC based chip, the BAE RAD750, which runs at 132 MHz, on a mainboard with 256MB RAM, and 2GB flash memory. It seems ridiculously underpowered compared to the laptop I have running on my desk, but at the same time, it's hardened against radiation and the temperature extremes of space. And as you've mentioned, this hardware and software has been tested and retested, because bugs that are a mere nuisance to us, that might cause a program to crash, or might make us reboot, could cripple a spacecraft or rover, with no way to fix them.

The space industry is very conservative when it comes to computers. They have to work as close to 100% of the time as they can make them.

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Response to backscatter712 (Reply #14)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 09:49 PM

15. Exactly.

Hell, as mentioned below in another post, NASA is already at 200% of lifespan. I'm confident they'll get through it, but if not, so be it. Launch the next model.

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Response to backscatter712 (Reply #14)

Sun Apr 10, 2016, 03:29 PM

20. New Horizons....

MIPs Mongoose V clocked at only 12 MHz !!!

"From Playstation to Pluto"

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 08:07 PM

4. Eventually these things will have their own repair droids if something physical needs to be done.

 

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 08:42 PM

9. Unfortunately,

too many people have no idea that the Kepler spaceship exists...money spent on NASA has been well worth the spending...

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 09:17 PM

11. FYI The planned mission duration for Kepler was..

..... 3.5 years. It's now been operational for 7.

The initial planned lifetime was 3.5 years, but greater-than-expected noise in the data, from both the stars and the spacecraft, meant additional time was needed to fulfill all mission goals. Initially, in 2012, the mission was expected to be extended until 2016, but on July 14, 2012, one of the spacecraft's four reaction wheels used for pointing the spacecraft stopped turning, and completing the mission would only be possible if all other reaction wheels remained reliable. Then, on May 11, 2013, a second reaction wheel failed, disabling the collection of science data] and threatening the continuation of the mission.

On August 15, 2013, NASA announced that they had given up trying to fix the two failed reaction wheels. This meant the current mission needed to be modified, but it did not necessarily mean the end of planet-hunting. NASA had asked the space science community to propose alternative mission plans "potentially including an exoplanet search, using the remaining two good reaction wheels and thrusters". On November 18, 2013, the K2 "Second Light" proposal was reported. This would include utilizing the disabled Kepler in a way that could detect habitable planets around smaller, dimmer red dwarfs. On May 16, 2014, NASA announced the approval of the K2 extension.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler_(spacecraft)

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Response to reACTIONary (Reply #11)

Sun Apr 10, 2016, 02:50 PM

18. I think we’ve all gotten so used to NASA missions going way over their projected lifespan

... that it seems terrible when they exceed it by just a couple of years

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sat Apr 9, 2016, 10:03 PM

16. Hope it didn't lose one of the two remaining reaction wheels.

 

Short of total failure, that's about the worst thing that could happen.

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Response to Thor_MN (Reply #16)

Sun Apr 10, 2016, 02:52 PM

19. It took some seriously ingenious engineering to keep it going this long

Kepler started off with 4 reaction wheels, and 2 of them eventually broke down. NASA’s solution to keep it going for a few more years was to essentially balance radiation pressure from the sun against the function of the remaining reaction wheels to keep Kepler’s ability to stare at one spot in the sky intact.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Sun Apr 10, 2016, 10:00 AM

17. I'd rather my tax dollars go to NASA than to the war machine.

Someday, maybe.

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Response to navarth (Reply #17)

Mon Apr 11, 2016, 06:23 PM

22. I agree

I'd rather see our children making good money at Nasa and seeing our nation be seen as one of exploration....Republicans are idiots for wanting to focus on war, war and more war.

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Response to Calista241 (Original post)

Mon Apr 11, 2016, 06:21 PM

21. Nasa re-establishes solid contact with Kepler spacecraft

Source: The Guardian

Nasa re-establishes solid contact with Kepler spacecraft

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent
Monday 11 April 2016 18.07 BST

Nasa scientists have rescued the troubled Kepler mission after re-establishing contact with the spacecraft.

The planet hunting observatory unexpectedly entered emergency mode last week, days before it was due to begin a new phase of its hunt for Earthlike planets. In an official update at the weekend, Charlie Sobeck, the mission manager, said: “The mission has declared a spacecraft emergency.”

He added: “The spacecraft is nearly 75m miles from Earth, making the communication slow. Even at the speed of light it takes 13 minutes for a signal to travel to the spacecraft and back.”

After several days of only sporadic contact with the £395m probe, Nasa has now re-established “solid contact” with the craft. Ground controllers are investigating what triggered the problem and hope the next phase of the mission will go ahead.

“Once data is on the ground, the team will thoroughly assess all onboard systems to ensure the spacecraft is healthy enough to return to science mode,” Sobeck said on Monday.

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/apr/11/nasa-re-establishes-solid-contact-with-kepler-spacecraft

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Response to Eugene (Reply #21)

Mon Apr 11, 2016, 06:31 PM

23. Yay! James Webb space telescope is years away...at least


NASA's next great space telescope



Assembly of the next great space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is now underway at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Launch target: 2018.

http://phys.org/news/2016-04-nasa-great-space-telescope.html

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