NASA gives up fixing planet-hunting telescope

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013 2:03 pm | Updated: 9:19 pm, Wed Sep 18, 2013.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is calling off all attempts to fix its crippled Kepler space telescope. But it's not quite ready to call it quits on the robotic planet hunter.

Officials said Thursday they're looking at what science might be salvaged by using the broken spacecraft as is.

The $600 million mission has been in trouble since May, unable to point with precision at faraway stars in its quest for other planets. That's when a critical second wheel failed on the spacecraft. The first of four gyroscope wheels broke in 2012. At least three are needed for accurate pointing.

Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has confirmed 135 planets outside our solar system. And it's identified more than 3,500 candidate planets.

Kepler's unprecedented job was to track down other Earths.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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