It’s pretty exciting to hear news about strange and pristine worlds out there. And it would seem that the recent American Astronomical Associating meeting fuels our inclination towards exploring new vistas. The 227th meeting broke the news on the prodigal spacecraft’s ventures. Kepler returns with news about new worlds, after suffering from a crippling instrument malfunction back in 2013.
Kepler, the prodigal spacecraft, was launched back in 2009. It’s continuing mission was to explore strange new world and to relay its finding back to Earth. According to reports detailing Kepler’s first mission, designated as K1, in May 2013, the spacecraft suffered a critical malfunction.
As a result of this incident, Kepler lost one of its gyroscopic-like reaction devices. These devices were needed in order to maintain Kepler’s stability. After this happened, the space center was on the verge on declaring the mission a failure. This would have meant that Kepler was to return home, where he would be reassigned to other research projects.
Luckily, thanks to some impressive feats of engineering, the spacecraft was allowed to continue with its mission. With two gyroscopic-like reaction wheels missing, the engineers had to find a way in order to stabilize the giant space telescope.
The scientists managed to keep Kepler at float by using the two remaining stabilization wheels, with the sun dubbing as the third wheel. Using this technique, the engineers managed to stabilize the craft, by keeping its flight path parallel to the sun’s orbit.
With its telescope stabilized, Kepler returns with news about new worlds. And according to recent reports, during its 7-year trek through the void of space, Kepler managed to catalog over 1000 planets, out of which, 100 of them are entirely new.
Its new mission, called K2, was to find exoplanets that were not yet discovered. Kepler, with the help of its state-of-the-art telescope, is able to keep close tabs on planets by observing the planet’s passing through a star’s disk.
As this happens, the space probe registers a brief moment in the star’s brightness cycle. By using this method, the prodigal spacecraft was able to detect nearly 100 never before cataloged exoplanets.
Meanwhile, the team is struggling to keep the space telescope afloat using the sun method. According to its specs, the Kepler space telescope is able to observe different patches in the sky, over an 80 day period.
After relaying back the data about the discovered planets, all of the scientific community is amazed to see how a limping space probe could have achieved such stunning results.