Kepler Mission Manager Update
March 10, 2010
The Kepler spacecraft has been performing well since the Safe Mode event of Feb. 2, 2010. Engineers on the anomaly response team are continuing to analyze the telemetry from the event to develop root cause and mitigations. Several mitigations are under consideration and are being prepared for implementation. The mitigations should minimize impact to science activities, should a similar event occur that caused the Feb. 2, 2010 Safe Mode entry.
The project team continues to prepare for another monthly science data download and spacecraft quarterly roll. These activities are scheduled for March 19-21, 2010, and the planning for the event is nearly complete. The spacecraft is rotated 90 degrees every three months to maintain the solar array panel pointing towards the sun and the focal plane radiator pointed towards deep space. The science data download for this scheduled event will include science data collected since the Safe Mode event in early February. All data were downloaded at the time of the Safe Mode event and the routine monthly download was skipped in order to enhance the data completeness.
The science team has just begun the follow-on observing season for 2010. At this time, the Kepler star field is visible for about one hour just before dawn. The Kepler star field will be visible for several months from the Earth’s northern hemisphere.
The project team recently marked the one-year anniversary of Kepler’s launch on March 6, 2009. The Kepler spacecraft is well on its way in its drift-away heliocentric orbit and has completed about one-fifth of its three-and-a-half-year mission.