bad news for the search for exo-planets. The U.S. space telescope Kepler which has increased the discovery of new planets since 2009, is paralyzed by a technical problem. This dysfunction could spell the premature end of his four-year mission, +NASA said yesterday (May 15th 2013).
Kepler is the first telescope dedicated to the search for planets sisters of the Earth in other solar systems in our galaxy, the Milky Way. So far it has detected 2,740 potential exo-planets which 122 were confirmed to the day using telescopes and other equipment.
+Kepler Space Telescope is blocked by the malfunction of a mechanism which allows the telescope to focus on a given point in the sky towards said John Grunsfeld, the head of the science division of the U.S. space agency. "The telescope was put into safe mode" to ensure that the solar panels facing the sun to recharge the batteries and continue to communicate with Earth, he said.
Engineers found last week that it did not move despite gyroscope controls from the ground. This problem had already occurred in July with another gyro Kepler has stopped working, said the head of NASA.
"Unfortunately Kepler is not a place where you can send astronauts" to fix it, he said, explaining that the engineers' carefully examined the data (...) to see if it is possible to resume the scientific activities of the telescope. " But "we are not yet ready to declare the end of Kepler," insisted John Grunsfeld, arguing that "in all respects the Kepler mission was a success."
In April, astronauts had announced the discovery by Kepler, two exoplanets with the greatest similarity to Earth ever recorded and where water could remain liquid and potentially allow life to exist.