NASA’s Kepler telescope for the Future “brains”

Recently, NASA announced that it would stop repair Kepler space telescope’s reaction wheels have been damaged, the device of this aircraft tracking telescope the planet’s ability to provide a positioning accuracy.


Due to a fault, Kepler’s vision began drifting.

Recently, NASA announced that it would stop repair Kepler space telescope’s reaction wheels have been damaged, the device of this aircraft tracking telescope the planet’s ability to provide a positioning accuracy. This decision actually means, one of which lasted four years the end of the main goals of the task. In the past few years, Kepler found a total 3,548 candidate planets.

Leave hope

However, NASA also left a hope Space: Not long ago, it requires astronomers on September 3 to submit Kepler how to perform outstanding scientific feasibility of the project plan. “Nature” magazine was informed that some of these ideas is in operation.

These views from the survey there is a potential threat to near-Earth objects, to about the size of a large orbit outer planets of Jupiter Research, a very wide range. Kepler project scientist will be responsible for collating the submissions, and in November 1st decide which one. If you pick out the right plan, they will be submitted to NASA Headquarters of the submission for further review.

In order to obtain financial support from NASA’s Kepler telescope team will have to show the other does not complete these studies. This may not be easy to test – especially considering the engineer can not be determined, Kepler rotation using only four reaction wheels in two, how good to be able to perform tasks that the role of the flywheel is stable gyroscope.

“We’re caught in a real dilemma.” Kepler principal investigator, NASA Ames Research Center Bill Borucki said, “Nobody knows what Kepler can do.” And these wheels have a history of poor performance record, in July 2012 a damage in May this year another stop working.

Although the spacecraft’s thrusters can still serve as a rough version of the third wheel, but they can not be repeated three wheels can provide positioning accuracy, and the focal length of the telescope began drifting.With the passage of time, accompanied by a slightly different sensitivity, starting point to different star light pixels.”Then if you use every day different detectors and different telescopes.” San Diego, California State University, Kepler scientist William Welsh said.

By keeping its solar orbit in the same plane pointing Kepler drift may be minimized. However, it is also very complicated. Some of the best science projects are expected to be in the range of from about 150,000 stars in the follow-up observation. But these stars are not on a plane.


Welsh and his colleagues made a suggestion is that Kepler should continue to stare its original stellar region to search for Jupiter-sized planets. These objects is large enough, and when they pass through the front of its parent star, it will result in reduced light, even in a state of compromise, Kepler also be observed.

The team plans to target at Kepler have been recorded to a small number of transit phenomenon Jupiter-sized planets – they need a more than a year about its stellar run a week. Usually takes at least 3 Ling, confirmed the presence of planets. Where possible and eventually found between the capture of three transit is very important.

This equipment has been very solid frame, unable to find Earth-like bodies from scratch, but the Welsh suggested that it might be able to add some class to the candidate celestial statistics. And New York University astronomer David Hogg that in the past few months, Kepler drift may be used to mark out the different pixel light reaction. Hogg said that if enough detail that those scales enough to start looking for Kepler Earth-like planets.

University of Chicago astronomer Daniel Fabrycky has put forward an alternative plan follow-up study. He and his colleagues focused on the proposed line galaxies, where gravitational attraction is crowded planet. Occurred during transit light weakened eclipse occurs only reveal the size of a planet, but to understand the transit time variation, but it can show the size of the planet – which for the calculation of the density and composition of stars is crucial. Like with the Welsh, Fabrycky also hope Kepler orbits can align the long line of galaxies.

But Ohio State University astronomer Andrew Gould said he was simply using the device to its original mission to track doubts. “People need to break away the shackles come up with new ideas.” He said.

Fabrycky research group made a second suggestion: Let the search for planets Kepler ceased to work, but can act as sentinels, monitoring of stars near the Earth, including the possibility of a few hundred meters in diameter hit Earth asteroids. Investigation may be able to take advantage of the space meteorite large area of ​​Kepler vision.

Gould proposed another plan: Kepler will use a technique called microlensing toward the galactic center survey of stars, looking for signs of planets. Microlensing relies Einstein’s general relativity prediction: massive object’s gravity can bend light. Researchers have used microlensing, found about 40 for the center of the galaxy planet, but the observations did not show their quality.

Competitive selection

If recommended to NASA Kepler team seems feasible proposals, these programs will be next year by an external panel of scientists to review the assessment.

At that stage, the change in the target Kepler will face their biggest obstacle – and including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, etc., the other nine astrophysical projects competing for limited funds. Once you accept the recommendations of the Panel, NASA will be held next year in June, the final decision to project funding allocation.

Of course, not everyone supported Kepler. Harvard – Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Doug Finkbeiner hope to be able to support NASA projects still sound. He has observed that the Fermi telescope the size of two galaxies ionized gas group. “I am very biased and selfish perspective, I hope we can make Kepler retirement.” He said.

NASA Kepler is designed to find around other stars like planets Space Telescope, is expected to spend 3.5 years to orbit the Sun in the orbit, the observed luminosity 100,000. After several months of effort, NASA on August 15 this year, to renounce repair Kepler, thus it may be the end of the search for extrasolar terrestrial planets major task, but it may still be used for other research work.

Article By :