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NASA has failed to fix the Hubble Space Telescope “Kepler”
Space agency NASA on Thursday officially announced that it would stop trying to fix the spacecraft, whose main task was to search for new planets outside our solar system. However, the space agency is already developing plans for alternative missions that “Kepler” will be able to do in the near future.
Official statement that “Kepler” will no longer perform its basic tasks done leading NASA astrophysicist Paul Hertz. Nevertheless, the work of the spacecraft will continue, and the new challenges that it will have to perform, will be selected in accordance with its remaining capacity.
The main part of the four-year mission, which was engaged in “Kepler”, in fact, completed in November 2012. Since space module began to perform additional tasks, when two of its four engines, flywheels, which allow you to adjust the direction and stabilize the “Kepler” so that he always looked at one point, out of order. The first flywheel stops responding in July 2012. But the spacecraft was designed in such a way that, for error-free operation it requires only three such flywheels operating correctly. Unfortunately, the problems are not over yet, and in May of this year, has failed a second flywheel. Since then, the space telescope was decided to put on hold, and NASA engineers looked for opportunities to repair the broken parts.
In the words of Charles Sobek, the deputy head of the “Kepler”, last week in Ames Research Center, owned by NASA, completed test trials, the essence of which was to find opportunities to return a broken flywheel back into operation. Tests fourth flywheel began on Thursday, July 18. As part of the test engineers were able to get the flywheel to rotate in the opposite direction, however, in command of rotation clockwise item is not answered. In principle, the engineers this result appeared to be not that surprising – after all, it is the fourth flywheel was damaged more seriously than the second. On Monday, July 22, the team of engineers conducted tests on a second flywheel and was able to make it spin in all necessary areas.
Then the team took a two-week break for the counting of the data, and then decided to spend last Thursday, the last test. The results showed that while the number 2 flywheel began to overheat and “Kepler” automatically switched to safe mode. This put an end to the question of repair and further basic work space telescope.
The good news is that the other functions of “Kepler” work correctly. The bad news is that now the “Kepler” does not meet the requirements to perform its mission. However, the control center was able to point the antenna, “Kepler” to the Earth, so the data it has collected, you can still download. In this case, Sobek said that engineers are still able to completely stabilize “Kepler” for 10 seconds.
Similar uses flywheels “Kepler”. Two of them are out of order (Image NASA)
Although it is impossible to repair the spacecraft, William Boruca, senior scientific researcher of the “Kepler” from the NASA Ames Research Center is looking at the whole situation with a certain amount of optimism. The scientist says that “Kepler” has already shown us that our galaxy “is crawling with all sorts of planets,” many of which are very similar in size to the Earth. And these planets are so many that look at the starry sky, we can say that around each star has its own planetary system.
“I really feel a sense of satisfaction, knowing the fact that the set for ‘Kepler’ main objectives were fully met,” – says Boruca.
“Thanks to him, we got an ocean of useful information on the analysis of which will require a considerable amount of time.”
At the end of his statement Boruca agreed to share information that “Kepler” found a few Earth-like planets , but to draw any conclusions on this issue is premature. And so it is. Most of the previously discovered new planets usually revolved around red dwarfs – stars smaller and cooler than our sun. And the planets themselves proved more of our Earth. Boruca hopes of received for the four-year mission of “Kepler” Data show up hundreds or even thousands of new planets, some of which will be exactly like our Earth.
What exactly will the new tasks “Kepler” has yet to be determined. As NASA continues to study this issue and discuss alternatives. Potential candidates for future missions can be to find asteroids, comets, supernovae, or the effects of gravitational lensing.
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