NASA is reviving its planet-hunting Kepler telescope

NASA’s famous planet-hunting Kepler telescope has been on the ropes for almost a year after spinning out of control. But the resilient Earth ambassador hasn’t given up, and NASA on Friday announced a mission to revive the beloved craft has been approved. There’s a pretty great infographic explaining how Kepler will be resuscitated—an idea of which was actually recommended by the public—that you can check out at the source. With two additional years of funding, NASA’s Kepler can continue to do what it was born to do—and maybe help researchers find even more Earth-like planets.

NASA’s prolific Kepler spacecraft is back in action, a year after being sidelined by an equipment failure. The space agency has approved a new mission called K2 for Kepler. The telescope’s original exoplanet hunt was derailed in May 2013 when the second of the spacecraft’s four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed, robbing it of its precision pointing ability. “The approval provides two years of funding for the K2 mission to continue exoplanet discovery, and introduces new scientific observation opportunities to observe notable star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies, and supernovae,” Kepler Project Manager Charlie Sobeck, of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, wrote in an update today (May 16). During the K2 mission, Kepler will stare at target fields in the plane of Earth’s orbit, known as the ecliptic, during observing campaigns that last about 75 days each. In this orientation, solar radiation pressure can help balance the spacecraft, making the most of Kepler’s compromised pointing ability, team members said.

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