Kepler Briefly Crippled
April 11th, 2016, 2:51PMIt’s been a rough couple of weeks for spacecraft. On the heels of the news that JAXA’s Hitomi astrophysics mission is certainly unrecoverable, after the agency lost contact with it on March 25 and debris was spotted in its orbital location, came the news on April 7 that NASA’s Kepler spacecraft had flipped itself into emergency mode. The exoplanet hunter, which has been in operation since 2009 and finished its primary mission in 2012, was about to begin a new campaign observing the center of the Milky Way. But those maneuvers had not yet begun. To the mission team’s relief, they were able get the spacecraft out of emergency mode on Sunday, April 10. Engineers are continuing to investigate the source of the problem, and hope to return Kepler to normal mission duties soon.