Kepler Reaction Wheel Still has Elevated Levels Of Friction

Kepler Reaction Wheel Still has Elevated Levels Of Friction. Space News (4/5, Foust, Subscription Publication) reports, “A reaction wheel on NASA’s Kepler spacecraft continues to experience elevated levels of friction after a brief rest period, but project officials say that does not necessarily imply an imminent failure that could jeopardize the spacecraft’s planet-hunting mission.” Kepler mission manager Roger Hunter said in an update, “The wheel rest period of January 17-January 27 appears to have had no beneficial impact on alleviating the elevated friction in reaction wheel #4. … At this point, all mitigation steps to preserve wheel life have been implemented, and no additional steps are planned at this time.” Deputy project manager Charlie Sobeck also said there only was “a low probability” the rest period would have worked. Sobeck said NASA is examining ways Kepler could function if the reaction wheel fails, saying, “It would not be Kepler as we know it, but it still might provide useful science.” Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s astrophysics division, also previously said, “I can’t tell you how valuable Kepler two-wheel science is and whether that makes Kepler worth operating.”