Something is going wrong with NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.
As it drifts in space approximately 75 million miles away from Earth, it has apparently entered a low power state that the space agency is dubbing 'EM' (emergency mode) and there’s a possibility something has seriously harmed the spacecraft.
Engineers are working hard to get back in communication with the Kepler spacecraft and to regain control of it, unfortunately, being in the low power state that it is now, in addition to being so far away, it takes signals around 13 minutes to travel back and forth, even at the speed of light.
NASA explains in a statement that it discovered the spacecraft was in distress during a scheduled contact this past Thursday, where it attempted to communicate with and download information from Kepler.
The last time NASA got in touch with the spacecraft, it was April 4th, and everything was looking good at that time, so you can imagine this emergency mode discovery took NASA for surprise.
Unfortunately, their discovery shows that Kepler is in an emergency low power state. NASA explains that in this state, it’ll use less energy, but it burns through more fuel, which is why NASA is working hard to regain control over the spacecraft to find out just what went wrong.
Because of the spacecraft’s distance from Earth, there’s really no way to send a repair team out to fix it. The only hope is that engineers will be able to reactivate the spacecraft, otherwise, it’ll just end up lost in the black abyss that is space.
Kepler’s job is to look for exoplanets, and it has found a bunch of them throughout the Milky Way galaxy. Scientists use this information to find out whether or not exoplanets, which are planets not in our solar system, are habitable by any means.
More than 5,000 exoplanets have been discovered with Kepler since its launch in 2009.
Source: NASA via CNN