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Kepler Spacecraft Stable After Rough Weekend

Rendering of Kepler at work. Photo: NASA
Rendering of Kepler at work. Photo: NASA

It was a rough and possibly tumbling weekend for NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.

Kepler is a space probe with a camera on it sending data back to earth. It's about 75 million miles away from Earth looking for new planets.

When operators tried to contact Kepler last week, they realized it was in what they call Emergency Mode.

Emergency mode is initiated by the spacecraft, the goal being that Kepler can stabilize itself in emergency mode should it become disoriented. Because the spacecraft is so far away, communication is delayed by about 13 minutes.

But NASA says Kepler was able to fix itself, and is now stable.

Teams at NASA are investigating what cause the emergency, while returning Kepler to its next mission – observing the center of the Milky Way.

Kepler is a part of NASA's Discovery Program, a constellation of low-cost, highly-focused missions aimed at better understanding our solar system.

This is the first time in Kepler’s 7 years the Emergency Mode was activated.

Brendan Byrne is Central Florida Public Media's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing the organization's internship program. Byrne also hosts Central Florida Public Media's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration, and the weekly news roundup podcast "The Wrap."