16 May '13, 8pm

Can the Kepler Planet Hunting Telescope Be Saved?

Can the Kepler Planet Hunting Telescope Be Saved?

It’s this staring that’s in danger with the loss of the reaction wheel. The device is used to gently point the telescope in the right direction, using other patches of stars as a reference. Reaction wheels are electric motors attached to fly wheels. By speeding up or slowing down, they transfer angular moment to the satellite, rotating it around its center of mass. Kepler’s have to be pretty good ones. According to a report at the 2011 IEEE Aerospace Conference , the telescope must be able to stare for more than 15 minutes at a time with a stability of 0.009 arc seconds for each axis of rotation. (By comparison, a comma in an Apollo mission manual left on the moon is about 0.001 arc seconds as seen from Earth.)

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/astrophysics...

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How Kepler’s Pointing System Might Have Failed

How Kepler’s Pointing System Might Have Failed

spectrum.ieee.org 17 May '13, 8pm

The more massive the satellite, the more massive the reaction wheels must be. Kepler weighs in at just over one metric ton...