The failure of my second reaction wheel sends all my high hopes down the drain.
While my creators back home frantically try to find solutions to keep me going, I laze around, watching random chunks of space.
In the time that they find a solution to set me right, I might as well tell you about myself. It’ll help me from idling away and you can get to know better about the first spacecraft that stopped working within four short years.
I was built for the sole purpose of observing Cygnus, and Cygnus only, for possible Earth-like planets. Because the constellation is a number of light years away and heavily populated with over four million stars, I was to constantly stare at it to detect planets.
2012. dailygalaxy.com. Web. 06 Nov. 2017.
As with any astronomical body, host stars’ brightness often dominates the poor planets. Stringently, I had to look for subtle dips in the stars’ luminosity to record at least three transits before I could declare an exoplanet. My first break came in 2011, two years after my launch, when I discovered Kepler 22b, the first confirmed planet it the habitable zone. Since then, I’ve had thousands of approved exoplanets to my credit. This mission required me to note down data from the stars every thirty minutes and with more than 150,000 stars to account for, I had been happily busy.
Until the first reaction wheel stopped working.
You see, my reaction wheels were supposed to keep me focused on Cygnus and its multi-million inhabitants by rotating around my centre of mass. I needed a minimum of three wheels to keep me focused and the Earthlings were smart enough to equip me with a spare one. Safe, I had continued my mission for two more years when another wheel failed. As you might expect, when the wheels stopped working, so did my mission. Either the shock during launch was too much for my wheels to digest or space radiation just decided to kill me for entering its territory.
With no more spare parts to hang on to, I am now spending my time looking at everything, but really nothing. Who would have guessed I would be wheel-less and mission-less within four years?
Crippled, I hope my creators have the skills and resources to mend me. But even if they don’t, I’m happy enough to perish knowing I am the first spacecraft to detect an exoplanet.
And all the firsts always make history, don’t they?