Kepler Telescope Resumes Scientific Observations

Spaceflight Now (6/3, Clark, 3K) reports that starting May 30, the Kepler telescope has been taking new scientific observations under the “K2” extension plan, which is allowing the telescope to operate on only two out of four functioning reaction wheels. under this “new lease on life,” the telescope will undertake nine observational campaigns over the next two years. As for what could happen if another reaction wheel fails, Charlie Sobeck, Kepler project manager, wrote in an email, “We have not done any planning for the failure of another reaction wheel,” Sobeck wrote in an email. “A two-wheel mission was challenging enough I don’t believe there is a viable one-wheel mission scenario. However, we are watching the remaining two wheels closely and we have not yet seen any of the symptoms that we associate with a wheel that is stressed.” Meanwhile, scientists are still analyzing the data taken during the mission’s first four years of operations.