Kepler, the NASA spacecraft that has introduced us to other Earth-like planets in our neighborhood of the universe, may be done spotting distant worlds floating in their respective suns' habitable zones.
In May, Kepler saw the second of its four gyroscope-like reaction wheels fail. Among the spacecraft's few moving parts, the wheel allows it to point precisely at its observation targets. The first wheel failed last year, and NASA says at least three operational wheels are required for Kepler to maintain the precise aim needed to observe the transit of smaller planets.
In a conference call Thursday, NASA announced that after unsuccessful tests, it was giving up on attempts to restore at least one of the two failed wheels and get Kepler back into full working order. … Read more