Mission News

Kepler Mission Manager Report
03.11.09
 
Jim Fanson by Jim Fanson, Kepler, JPL Project Manager

After NASA's Kepler mission vaulted into the heavens on a column of thunder Friday March 6, it quickly sent its first communications to Earth via NASA's Deep Space Network station in the Mohave desert of California, called Goldstone. The spacecraft flew past the orbit of the moon Sunday night, and continues to trail behind Earth as it orbits the sun.

Flight controllers are busy proceeding through the methodical process of powering on and checking out Kepler's various systems. So far, the star cameras used to determine the orientation of the spacecraft, and the sun sensors used to determine the direction of the sun, have been checked out. In addition, the spacecraft's X-band radio communication link has been tested with the remaining two Deep Space Network stations, one near Madrid, Spain, and the other near Canberra, Australia. All systems are performing as expected and the commissioning process is proceeding smoothly.