Mission News

Kepler Mission Manager Update
Roger HunterRoger Hunter, Kepler-Ames Mission Manager Kepler is more than 10,000,000 miles from Earth and continues in its drift away, heliocentric orbit. The Kepler team has just completed another science data download from the spacecraft. The operation involved all of the NASA Deep Space Network sites. Science data collected since early July by Kepler were included in the download. This was also the first time that the Canberra Deep Space Network was used for a science data download since Kepler science operations began on May 12, 2009. Additionally, another Kepler first was achieved in this science data download. The Australian Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) supported Kepler in a shadow-track mode, while the Canberra Deep Space Network site was supporting science data download operations. The ATCA could be used as a possible back-up to the Canberra site in the future for Kepler science operations.

Investigation into Kepler's two safing events is ongoing. Engineers have determined that the safing events were caused by resets of the Kepler RAD750 main processor. Engineers continue to sift through data and conduct additional tests on similar RAD750 processor components to further isolate the root cause of the safing events. Since the July 2, 2009 safing event, no further safing modes have occurred on Kepler. We have continued daily contacts with the spacecraft to extract additional diagnostic telemetry to support root cause determination for the safing events. The team plans to continue daily contacts through the next science data download, which is scheduled for September 17-18, 2009. The next science data download also coincides with a quarterly roll operation for Kepler. Like the quarterly roll conducted in June 2009, the spacecraft will be rolled ninety-degrees to keep solar arrays normal to the sun. This will ensure the spacecraft solar arrays receive proper illumination for power generation.

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.

Editor’s Note: Today we are introducing a new feature called "Meet the Team" to acquaint our readers with members of the Kepler Mission Team.