Analysis of science attitudes for K2 planet hunter mission
Kinzbrunner, Eric S.
Ross, Isaac M.
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NASA designed the Kepler spacecraft to detect extrasolar planets, but after several successful years, with many new discoveries, two out of four reaction wheels failed. NASA repurposed Kepler to continue science under the new mission, K2. The physics of how Kepler detects planets, the transit method, is first described. As part of this description it is shown that pointing noise is the limiting factor of Kepler’s ability to detect planets. The second part of this thesis uses a flat plate solar torque model of Kepler in order to assess the capabilities of the spacecraft in other off ecliptic attitudes. This analysis concluded that the controllability of the failed spacecraft in the presence of the solar torque is the main driver for the new K2 mission attitude and that conducting science out of ecliptic plane attitudes present challenges from the control point of view.
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