Kepler shut down for ten days to save the mission.


Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

Uh-oh: Kepler has been shut down for ten days to save the mission.

The spacecraft was launched with four so-called reaction wheels that spin to help keep the telescope pointing at its target fields of stars. One of these, reaction wheel No 2, failed in July 2012, leaving three to do the maneuvers, including a quarterly roll to a new orientation. Now reaction wheel No 4 has shown early indications that it might fail, prompting its NASA controllers to attempt some long-distance maintenance. They hope that by resting the wheels, their lubricant will spread to ease increased friction.

If this wheel fails permanently, the Kepler mission would be over, as it would be impossible to orient the spacecraft with enough precision with only two wheels.

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Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.
 

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