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Kepler is back in operation after a ten day rest to save the mission.
When Kepler launched in March 2009, it had four reaction wheels — three for immediate use, and one spare. But one wheel (known as number two) failed in July 2012, so a major problem with the currently glitchy wheel (called number four) could spell the end of the $600 million Kepler mission. It’s unknown at the moment if the 10-day rest period will bring wheel number four back into line. “Over the next month, the engineering team will review the performance of reaction wheel #4 before, during and after the safe mode to determine the efficacy of the rest operation,” Hunter wrote.