Exoplanet Hunter
May 15, 2013 2:28 PM   Subscribe

"It was one of those things that was a gift to humanity... We’re all going to lose for sure." Kepler's career is over, but not before answering one of mankind's most profound questions.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot (30 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by m@f at 2:34 PM on May 15, 2013


Wait, it's not dead yet!
posted by slater at 2:40 PM on May 15, 2013


NASA really hit it out of the park with Kepler. "Discovered a new, possibly habitable planet? Must be Tuesday."
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:41 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's still hope! Okay, the article quotes "less than 50-50", which is probably happy-speak for 1 chance in 10, but there isn't a clear reason yet as to why the 3rd reaction wheel is experiencing this strange friction, so there's still hope it might come back to spec.

Otherwise, a sadly early end to a spectacular, fantastic mission - one that blew past every expectation we had for it. Check out the exoplanets db - over 700 (SEVEN HUNDRED) confirmed planets outside our solar system (not all from Kepler, of course), and 2600 Kepler candidates still to go...
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:44 PM on May 15, 2013


Man, that's terrible--what a fantastic project.

Also: "Man is the only alien creature, as far as we know, in the entire Cosmos." -- Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos.
posted by resurrexit at 2:44 PM on May 15, 2013


Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?
posted by Fizz at 2:49 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't really want an earthlike planet, though. I want one where tacos grow on trees, cats and dogs have human lifespans, and Community doesn't suck.
posted by elizardbits at 2:56 PM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Hey, at least it wasn't on a collision course with an old Soviet spy satellite.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:57 PM on May 15, 2013


and Community doesn't suck.

Planet of the trolls!
posted by zippy at 2:59 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want one where tacos grow on trees, cats and dogs have human lifespans, and Community doesn't suck.

um i don't know what you're talking about, my cats (hopefully plus dog/s soon) are going to live forever
posted by invitapriore at 3:01 PM on May 15, 2013


Man I totally thought Kepler was going to get tenure.
posted by spitbull at 3:24 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"We're looking at the data very carefully to see if it's possible to get back into science mode," said [John] Grunsfeld.

I know that he means "out of safe mode", but... SCIENCE MODE!
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:33 PM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


. ○ ◯
posted by DigDoug at 3:37 PM on May 15, 2013


That happened to the Hubble, too. At least one Shuttle mission was mainly about replacing all of the existing ones on the unit with new ones because a lot of them had failed. IIRC it has 6 and needs 3 to aim.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:04 PM on May 15, 2013


Well yes. Hubble was in reach of manned space flight though.
posted by edd at 4:13 PM on May 15, 2013


A quick search found some chatter about future exoplanet detecting missions, but I couldn't find anything specific. Is this a mission that we could adapt one of the two Hubble clones it got from the military?
posted by vibrotronica at 4:29 PM on May 15, 2013


Actually, I just answered my own question: yes.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:34 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


So -- if we're going to be capable of sending something out to grab an asteroid and move it into a useful orbit -- surely someone can work up a gadget that will go out, clamp onto Kepler, and provide it with the extra gyroscope it needs to keep working....
posted by hank at 5:01 PM on May 15, 2013


This story popped up on my phone earlier today and slowed me down a little bit. That they've already lost one wheel and are in the process of losing another is bad news and gave me sad.

:c
posted by Chutzler at 5:22 PM on May 15, 2013


Quick note that it was the Hubble gyros that were failing, not reaction wheels. The gyros are for measuring attitude, the reaction wheels actually move the telescope.

The next exoplanet mission to look for is called TESS.
posted by kiltedtaco at 5:29 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


o o x .
posted by localroger at 5:40 PM on May 15, 2013


You done good kid, take a rest.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 PM on May 15, 2013


And here I was, saying to myself - didn't he die four hundred years ago?
posted by koeselitz at 10:10 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


surely someone can work up a gadget that will go out, clamp onto Kepler, and provide it with the extra gyroscope it needs to keep working....

Or at least cart it back to Earth orbit where it can be serviced either at ISS or by other means. A little tiny ion engine to nudge it into a Hohmann least-energy path....

The next exoplanet mission to look for is called TESS.

And after that, James Webb -- although it's not optimized for the same tasks.

At least one Shuttle mission was mainly about replacing all of the existing [gyroscopes]

They actually replaced gyroscopes on three of the servicing missions.
posted by dhartung at 3:56 AM on May 16, 2013


surely someone can work up a gadget that will go out, clamp onto Kepler, and provide it with the extra gyroscope it needs to keep working....

Or at least cart it back to Earth orbit where it can be serviced either at ISS or by other means.


I suspect it would be cheaper just to build Kepler II. Kickstarter, anyone?
posted by bondcliff at 6:45 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It sucks when you lose your job just because of orientation.
posted by Renoroc at 10:03 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Water Worlds, Tatooines, and Earth Twins: Planet-Hunting Kepler Telescope’s Greatest Hits
posted by homunculus at 12:27 PM on May 16, 2013


In other news: Herschel observatory: European astronomical observatory ends mission after four years.
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on May 16, 2013


Here's the supernova Johannes Kepler studied 400 years ago
posted by homunculus at 1:40 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Herschel Space Observatory Discovers Two Galaxies Colliding With Each Other
posted by homunculus at 4:34 PM on May 22, 2013


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