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Kepler Mission Manager Update: Response to Call for Ideas

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:19 pm via: NASA
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On Aug. 2, a call for scientific white papers was announced to solicit ideas to help shape a repurposed science mission using a combination of the Kepler’s two remaining good reaction wheels and thrusters for spacecraft attitude control.

In response to the call, 42 white papers were received. The white papers, publicly available at the Kepler Science Center, cover many aspects of astrophysical science, planetary science and even studies of methods to squeeze out better photometry from the data.

Scientific and technical assessments of the white papers are being performed in order to examine the entire scope of possible observations a repurposed Kepler space telescope might be able to do. Observations aimed at exoplanet discovery, star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies and asteroids are among the suggested ideas submitted.

The next steps are to review the assessments and match them with spacecraft operation models, hi-impact scientific value to the community and finally cost.

Assuming the spacecraft testing using two reaction wheels continues in a favorable manner and a balance of the many factors involved can be achieved, a plan for a two-wheel repurposed Kepler mission will be submitted to NASA Headquarters by Nov. 1.

Meanwhile engineering tests of the spacecraft are ongoing to determine its pointing capabilities with the two remaining and functioning reaction wheels.

Finally, the team continues to prepare for hosting the second Kepler Science Conference Nov. 4-8 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. More than 250 abstracts have been received for scientific talks and poster sessions. The final program will be published online Sept. 30.

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