Man’s search for another habitable planet has hit another roadblock as NASA has announced that the Kepler telescope is broken, again.
The $600 million eye in the sky has another damaged wheel (the other one broke last year) which is required for the repositioning Kepler’s four solar panels. Every 3 months, the spacecraft must roll 90 degrees so that the solar panels face the sun while maintaining its precise view on the distant planets.
NASA hasn’t indicated that the wheel’s failure will mean an indefinite end to Kepler, and maintain that they will do everything possible to fix what they can to extend the telescope’s life.
“We’re not down and out. The spacecraft is safe, it is stable,” said Charles Sobeck, the deputy project manager at Ames Research center.
The spacecraft is also reported as currently being in safe mode as engineers hammer out possible solutions for the broken wheel.
Regardless of how things end for Kepler, scientists agree that the data gathered by the instrument within the last several years are more than sufficient to dub the mission as “spectacularly successful.”
“Kepler is just one of these wonderful stories, where folks didn’t believe we would be able to find planets, and here we are, having achieved all the milestones that we really wanted to with the Kepler mission in four years,” said John Grunsfeld, an associate administrator at NASA.