Keith's 10:03 am EDT note: Kepler is in safe mode again. Studies are under way. While Kepler's main mission may now be at an end, there is still a lot of life left in the spacecraft. Stay tuned.
Kepler has a telescope with 0.95 meter aperture and a wide field of view. It is in an Earth-following, heliocentric orbit. Although its fine pointing ability may no longer be available, the spacecraft still has other potential uses. One obvious use is NEO (asteroid) detection. Ideas?
"NASA will host a news teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT, today, May 15, to discuss the status of the agency's Kepler Space Telescope."
Keith's 1:25 pm EDT update: The Kepler spacecraft has entered Safe Mode yet again. It is unlikely that the spacecraft will be able to resume its original extrasolar planet detection mission. NASA has uploaded Point Rest State software to the spacecraft. The Kepler spacecraft is currenty stable in Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode. In this mode it has several months of fuel available. If the spacecraft can be put into Point Rest State then the spacecraft has several years of remaining fuel. Post-prime mission options for use of the spacecraft are being pursued including NEO detection.
Keith's 4:25 pm EDT update: The New York Times (who claimed credit via Twitter for breaking the story 6 hours after it was broken here on NASA Watch) claims that Kepler is "crippled". When asked if he agreed with this characterization, SMD AA John Grunsfeld called this "odd" and said that he did not agree that Kepler is "crippled" given that there are still options and other science that can be done.
"With the failure of a second reaction wheel, it's unlikely that the spacecraft will be able to return to the high pointing accuracy that enables its high-precision photometry. However, no decision has been made to end data collection."