Monday, April 11, 2016

O/T: Space Science -- Kepler Now Back Online, And Operating In Normal, Stable Mode. Whew!

Well -- I do so like to report good news -- so here is some real good space science news.

NASA's Kepler is back in normal operations-mode, downloading data, as it continues the hunt for worlds that might be in the so-called "Goldilocks Zone" -- of the right size and tempuratures (via orbital trajectory and distance), to support liquid water, and just possibly -- carbon-based life, like ours.

In just a few years of looking, it has identified 12 likely Earth-ish worlds. Here's the latest update, from NASA:

. . . .Mission operations engineers have successfully recovered the Kepler spacecraft from Emergency Mode. On Sunday morning, the spacecraft reached a stable state with the communication antenna pointed toward Earth, enabling telemetry and historical event data to be downloaded to the ground. The spacecraft is operating in its lowest fuel-burn mode.

The mission has cancelled the spacecraft emergency, returning the Deep Space Network ground communications to normal scheduling.

Once data is on the ground, the team will thoroughly assess all on board systems to ensure the spacecraft is healthy enough to return to science mode and begin the K2 mission's microlensing observing campaign, called Campaign 9. This checkout is anticipated to continue through the week.

Earth-based observatories participating in Campaign 9 will continue to make observations as Kepler's health check continues. The K2 observing opportunity for Campaign 9 will end on July 1, when the galactic center is no longer in view from the vantage point of the spacecraft. . . .

Sweet! And. . . onward, with a huge grin, ear to ear, now. . . .

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