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NASA ends Kepler recovery efforts
Posted: Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 8:36 AM ET (1236 GMT)
Kepler spacecraft illustration (NASA/Ames) NASA announced Thursday that it is ending efforts to restore a failed reaction wheel on the Kepler spacecraft and will look for alternative missions for the planet-hunting spacecraft. The second of four reaction wheels on Kepler, used to accurately point the spacecraft, failed in May, forcing NASA to suspend observations. Efforts to restore at least one of the reaction wheels have failed, NASA said Thursday, meaning observations of a distant star field, looking for minute brightness variations caused by transiting stars, will not resume. While engineers examine the bets way to operate the spacecraft with the remaining two wheels and thrusters, NASA is soliciting ideas for alternative missions that can make use of Kepler and don't require the same pointing stability as the exoplanet search effort.
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