In response to the
Dec. 22, 2010 Safe Mode event on the Kepler spacecraft, the mission team has brought in several experts and begun a detailed anomaly investigation.
The team's initial results are that the Kepler spacecraft appears to be in good condition, and that the on-board fault protection is working as designed. During an initial assessment of the likely source of the anomaly, the team has been able to highlight the circuits most likely to have been involved in causing the safe mode. The team also has performed a failure analysis, which has not yet revealed any part that would have produced the behavior seen on the spacecraft, and has identified no part failures that would put the spacecraft at undue risk.
With this assessment, the team commanded the spacecraft to gather more data on both the primary and back-up electronics. Those data were gathered on
Dec. 29, 2010 and on Dec. 30, 2010, and are being analyzed. The results appear to show that the back-up electronics are not suffering from the same problem seen on the primary unit.
Science operations will not resume until the first week in Jan. 2011, at the earliest, while the team assesses whether or not to switch to the back-up hardware.
Meanwhile, the team is assessing delaying the next science data download, currently scheduled for late Jan. 2011, to minimize future data disruptions.
This article was sponsored by Forensic Science Books.