Engineers Outline K2 Plan To Restart Kepler Telescope Observations

Engineers Outline K2 Plan To Restart Kepler Telescope Observations. New Scientist (11/8, Becker, 18K) reports engineers at the Kepler Science Conference II outlined the “K2” plan, which would use a “helpful push from the sun” to allow the Kepler telescope to once again search for more exoplanets. Charlie Sobeck, Kepler deputy project manager, said, “If we could turn off the sun, then we could probably go back and point at the Kepler field of view and stay perfectly stable. We could do what we needed to do. … Because Kepler is out in the middle of nowhere, the only disturbance we have is the solar pressure.” Operators have now developed a way that uses the solar pressure to prevent the telescope from spinning. Sobeck said with this plan, “we’re opening the doors to some very different kinds of science, a much bigger section of the sky, a more diverse set of target stars to look at. … There are things that we can do in K2 that we never had an opportunity to look at before in the Kepler field of view.” The article notes that managers will ask NASA to fund this plan, but approval is needed before it can be implemented fully. In the mean time, “preliminary” testing is now under way.