NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. Credit: NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle NASA is trying to resuscitate its planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, in a state of emergency 75 million miles away.
The treasured spacecraft—responsible for detecting nearly 5,000 planets outside our solar system—slipped into emergency mode sometime last week. The last regular contact was April 4. Ground controllers discovered the problem right before they were going to point Kepler toward the center of the Milky Way.
This is the latest crisis in the life of Kepler. Launched in 2009, the spacecraft completed its primary mission in 2012. Despite repeated breakdowns, Kepler kept going on an extended mission dubbed K2—until now. The vast distance between Kepler and Earth make it all the harder to fix.
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