How Kepler’s Second Light Will WorkDecember 2nd, 2013
NASA’s planet hunting Kepler space telescope was crippled when it lost the second of its four reaction wheels which keep it aligned with the constellation Cygnus. However, NASA has come up with a backup plan, which it refers to as “Second Light.” Under Second Light, Kepler would be stabilized using the Sun. Essentially, NASA would keep the spacecraft oriented almost parallel to its orbit around the Sun. Kepler would be pointed at a particular part of the sky for 83 days at which point the Sun would be close to shining into the telescope and the spacecraft would be moved to a new position for another 83-day observation. This method allows Kepler to counteract the solar pressure from the Sun’s rays. NASA is currently testing the method to see if it will be feasible as a solution.