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Mission Manager Update – Kepler Returns to Science
01.29.2013
photo of reaction wheel made by Ball Aerospace
Photo of a Kepler reaction wheel from Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation.

Read the official
Mission Manager Update.

Excerpt:
After a precautionary "wheel rest" safe mode that began on January 17, 2013, NASA's Kepler spacecraft returned to science data collection at 5 p.m. on January 28, 2013. During the 10-day resting safe mode, daily health and status checks with the spacecraft using NASA's Deep Space Network were normal.

The recovery from wheel rest began at 11:30 a.m. PST on January 27, 2013, and proceeded without issue. The spacecraft responded well to commands and transitioned from thruster control to reaction wheel control as planned.

Early this month during a semi-weekly contact with the spacecraft, elevated friction was detected in reaction wheel #4. As a precaution for wheel safety, and as a measure to mitigate the friction, the reaction wheels were spun down to zero-speed and the spacecraft was placed in a thruster-controlled safe mode.

...Resting the wheels can provide a natural opportunity for the lubricant in the bearings to redistribute and potentially return the friction to nominal levels. Over the next month, the engineering team will review the performance of reaction wheel #4 before, during, and after the safe mode to determine the efficacy of the rest operation.

Read the official
Mission Manager Update.

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