The planet-seeking Kepler space telescope returned to stable condition on Apr. 7 after mission operation engineers discovered that the spacecraft was in Emergency Mode (EM) during a scheduled contact.
This is the first time in 7 years that the Kepler had been in EM. Team engineers had to remotely troubleshoot the Kepler from 75 million miles away due to the spacecraft's orbit. Making the situation difficult for NASA, because it takes 13 minutes for any signal to travel at the speed of light to and from the spacecraft.
Fortunately, NASA managed to recover the spacecraft three days after it had slipped itself into EM for unknown reason. According to NASA, Kepler's EM is the lowest operational mode while its fuel is intensive, allowing the spacecraft to survive beyond its mission planned lifetime. Scientists showed concerns to the telescope's emergency state, due to the fact that it has become a handy tool to the community of astronomy.
Kepler's mission manager Charlie Sobeck said, "It was the quick response and determination of the engineers throughout the weekend that led to the recovery. We are deeply appreciative of their efforts, and for the outpouring of support from the mission's fans and followers from around the world."
According to NBCNews, Kepler was launched in Mar. 7 2009 as a primary mission to explore the structure and diversity of the planetary systems. The space telescope uses a method called "transit method" to identify exoplanets which are planets outside the solar system.
So far Kepler has discovered over 1000 confirmed exoplanets in the galaxy, including the first planet in the habitual zone of another star similar to Earth.
Since Kepler has been recovered, team engineers are still trying to find out to what caused the EM status, but still plans to return the space telescope to its scheduled operation.