Kepler Planet-Hunting hits major technical problems

NASA’s Kepler Planet-Hunting telescope has lost its ability to point toward stars, because one of the reaction wheels that control the telescope’s orientation in space, has failed.

UPDADE: Have a look at this article: How NASA might revive the Kepler planet-hunter

Kepler Space telescope is too far away to send a rescue mission, so NASA engineers are attempting to restart the wheel from Earth.

If the wheel can’t be restarted, the mission for exoplanets hunting may have to be abandoned.

Kepler has discovered 132 exoplanets and identified nearly 3000 more possible planets.

Kepler Planet-Hunting area of view

Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.The spacecraft, named for the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler,as launched on 7 March 2009.

 Kepler Planet-Hunting area of view

The Kepler observatory is “specifically designed to survey a portion of our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover dozens of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets”. A photometer continually monitors the brightness of over 145,000 main sequence stars in a fixed field of view. This data is transmitted to Earth, then analyzed to detect periodic dimming caused by extrasolar planets that cross in front of their host star.

via universetoday

source kepler.nasawikipedia