The Kepler spacecraft may have just been given a new lease in life, entering into a new K2 mission after it successfully completed its original task in 2012. However, it seems that the space telescope is showing some signs of fatigue. On April 7, during a scheduled contact, the spacecraft was discovered to be in Emergency Mode or EM. The exact cause of that mode switch remains unknown. Needless to say, the NASA team in charge of Kepler is hard at work at investigating the cause and getting the spacecraft back in working condition.
Kepler completed its mission in 2012 after discovering 5,000 exoplanets, more than 1,000 of which have already been confirmed. A new mission was inaugurated in 2014 called “K2” where the space telescope is set to discover more exoplanets but also look towards young stars as well as supernovae.
The last regular contact with the spacecraft was on April 4 and was still operating normally. Computer logs, however, showed that Kepler entered emergency mode just before it started to move to orient itself to look towards the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
As Kepler is 75 million miles away from Earth, communication with the satellite is rather slow. Data traveling at the speed of light still takes 13 minutes to make a roundtrip journey from Earth to spacecraft and back. So far, no new details have been made available but NASA promises to keep the public update on this rather unexpected incident.