Kepler Mission Manager Update
Kepler remains in its science attitude and Earth-trailing, helio-centric orbit. The spacecraft is nearing 9,000,000 miles distance from Earth. All Kepler systems are now nominal as it continues to survey its target stars, looking for Earth-sized planets. The last science data downlink occurred on June 18-19, 2009. That downlink included observations of more than 145,000 stars continuously monitored by Kepler for more than 30 days. This downlink comprised about 50 gigabits of data that were processed through the Kepler Science Operations Center at NASA’s Ames Research Center. The processed data were presented to the Kepler Science Team for its review and analyses. The analyses will continue for some time as the project prepares for the next science data download.
No additional safe modes have occurred since the July 2, 2009 safing event. Since the June and July safing events, engineers have continued analyses of Kepler's telemetry data to ascertain their root cause,which appear to be identical. As a precaution, and to gain more information to aid in root-cause determination, engineers have scheduled additional contacts with Kepler. Daily contacts with Kepler began on July 3, 2009, and will continue for the near future. These daily contacts are used to extract additional diagnostic telemetry information, and serve to react to any possible safe mode events more quickly. Given the break in science that occurred on July 2, 2009 by the safing event, the Kepler team determined a downlink of science data scheduled for July 20, 2009 could be delayed to August 20, 2009.
A safe mode is a programmed precautionary response that spacecraft use when they sense a condition for which they do not know a more specific response. During safe mode events, spacecraft stop non-critical activities and await further instructions from their mission team.