Reprieve for NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — To astronomers' relief, NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has won another reprieve. The spacecraft slipped into emergency mode last week nearly 75 million miles from Earth. Ground controllers managed to stabilize the probe Sunday, and NASA announced the good news...

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              CORRECTS SPELLING OF KEPLER - FILE - An undated file artists concept provided by NASA shows the Kepler Spacecraft moving through space. The spacecraft, responsible for detecting thousands of planets beyond our solar system, slipped into emergency mode last week nearly 75 million miles from Earth. Ground controllers managed to stabilize the probe Sunday, April 10, 2016, and NASA announced the good news Monday.  (AP Photo/NASA, File)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — To astronomers' relief, NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has won another reprieve.

The spacecraft slipped into emergency mode last week nearly 75 million miles from Earth. Ground controllers managed to stabilize the probe Sunday, and NASA announced the good news Monday.

Engineers still don't know what went wrong and will study incoming data for clues. They also want to be certain the spacecraft is healthy enough to resume observations. The trouble occurred right before Kepler was to be pointed toward the center of the Milky Way for a new kind of planet-searching campaign. Mission manager Charlie Sobeck promises the team will remain vigilant.

This isn't the first time the 7-year-old Kepler has cheated death. Controllers managed to keep the spacecraft working a few years ago, despite repeated breakdowns.

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