...don't keep turning
...it looks like one too many of the reaction wheels may be dead or dying. Kepler needs only three wheels in order to stay properly positioned, and NASA provided four just in case. But one failed earlier, so now we're down to two. Hence, Kepler's gaze is drifting.
NASA isn't ready to call the mission over just yet; Earthbound technicians are trying to jump-start the misbehaving wheel (at 42.4 million miles from Earth, Kepler is too far away for a Hubble-like, astronaut repair job).
But in any case, the errant wheel lasted about eight and a half months beyond the originally planned three-and-a-half-year duration of the Kepler mission. So with its payload of other sophisticated equipment, Kepler has accomplished quite a lot.
May 19, 2013 12:01 AM PDT
Photo by: Ball Aerospace & Technologies
| Caption by: Edward Moyer
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