After an unnerving pause of 2 months in observations, the Kepler mission by NASA is up and running again. The Kepler was having issues with a thruster that was acting uncooperative but the team of scientists assigned to this mission handled the issue and successfully downloaded the science data from the spacecraft with the machine back again to its original cause of searching signs of life on potential planers.
However, a new issue might soon ail the spacecraft in the upcoming days which is the lack of fuel in the machine. NASA explained in its statement released on Wednesday that Kepler’s telescope started collecting new data from 29th August contributing to the 19th observational campaigns after the controllers dealt with the problem located in one of its 8 thrusters that is used for the purpose of pointing.
In the month of July, the engineers effectively suspended the science observation collection process after the sensors present inside the spacecraft revealed a drop for the overall fuel pressure. This was a sign that suggested that the Kepler could be running quite low on the overall fuel content. Currently, the scientists are unsure of the actual fuel level in the tank. This is why the engineers have to rely over the pressure data with overall usage rate calculation along with other means for estimation of the remaining fuel in the spacecraft.
This resulted in a decision by the mission managers to induce a state similar to hibernation for the spacecraft till August. After this, the spacecraft was put back online to radio down the science data collected till date inside the memory board located in the spacecraft. The official didn’t want the data to go unchecked due to sudden loss of fuel. The Kepler is fitted with a powerful 95-megapixel camera that has been designed to stream deep into the further of space and detect the light dips coming from the distant starts. As stated by the scientists, this dip in light could actually be caused due to the transiting planets.
According to a report, as stated by NASA’s Ames Research Center Spokesperson Alison Hawkes, the engineers planned on removal of the thruster that was causing the trouble when it came to precision in the flight pattern and pointing. She further added that this unusual behavior could actually be a result of the low fuel in Kepler.