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Friday, 18 September 2009

Kepler Mission Update

As it nears 11,000,000 miles distance from Earth, the Kepler spacecraft continues to scan the Milky Way galaxy, near the Cygnus constellation, for Earth-sized planets. The spacecraft subsystems are performing nominally, as the science team and engineers are preparing for upcoming events.

Scheduled for September 16-20 are another science data download and a quarterly roll of the spacecraft. Similar to the quarterly roll accomplished in late June, this activity keeps Kepler's solar arrays optimally pointed to the sun for power generation.

Meanwhile, scientists are continuing to process science data from previous downloads. Engineers have continued to make progress in determining the root cause of the two safing events that Kepler experienced on June 15 and July 2.

Radiation testing confirmed the susceptibility of a circuit, in the spacecraft's RAD750 processor, to single-event-upsets, as a credible root cause. The single-event-upset of the circuit would cause the RAD750 to execute a power-on reset, causing the spacecraft to enter a Safe mode. Mitigation actions are being considered for implementation to minimize the impact of any future safing events.

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