Feeds

NASA finds cash for Kepler's K2 planet-spotting mission

Not enough coin behind the sofa to keep Spitzer and NeoWISE alive

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

With budget reviews complete, NASA has okayed the extension of the Kepler mission, and has managed to find dollars to keep alive a bunch of other space astronomy missions.

It's bad news for the Spitzer mission, which at this stage is set to be cut in the new budget. The infrared space telescope, launched in 2003, exhausted its cryogenic coolant in 2009. Since then, it's been operating in “warm mode” with reduced sensitivity – but has continued to deliver data.

For example, during April we reported Spitzer's involvement in identifying a brown dwarf neighbour to the solar system, just 7.2 light years away.

“If the mission cannot operate with the recommended allocations, the Spitzer team should consult with Headquarters for a smooth termination of the mission,” the review states.

Spitzer would need a new appropriation from the US Congress in 2016, or its mission will come to an end.

It's far better news for Kepler fans, however, with the review recommending funding go ahead for the Kepler 2 mission.

NASA has already tested the idea, floated last year, that Kepler can be stabilised using the pressure of the solar wind. The K2 “Second Light” mission, NASA says, means there's “two years of funding for the K2 mission to continue exoplanet discovery”.

There'll also be “new scientific observation opportunities to observe notable star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies and supernovae.”

Australian National University astronomer Dr Brad Tucker says the review decision, which provides dollars until the end of 2016, means the mission is funded “essentially until [Kepler] is about to run out of fuel”.

Dr Tucker has a stake in the continuation of the mission: K2 means that the work he's participating in, supernova-spotting, is on the list. The hope is that when Kepler is pointed away from the Milky Way and towards distant galaxies, the mission will be able to capture start-to-finish supernova events.

“For each field [of view] we will be monitoring between 3,000 and 10,000 galaxies,” Tucker explained to The Register.

“K2 will also do lots for different types of planet and star studies,” he noted, with 76 programs accepted. Most of them follow Kepler's original mission to study stars and use them to spot planets. “K2 will still be true to the original Kepler purpose, but it is diversifying”, he said.

NASA's response to the Senior Review also slates the MaxWISE mission to for the chop. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?