Emily LakdawallaApr 08, 2009

Kepler's removed the lens cap

Since launch, Kepler's enormous photometer instrument, backed by a 42-Megapixel CCD (the largest such device ever sent to space by NASA), has been protected behind a truly gargantuan lens cap. The mission announced late yesterday that the lens cap (more correctly, "dust cover") was successfully ejected, first tipping to one side on a "flyaway hinge" and then springing off into space. Now the photometer can start collecting starlight. The release states they still have a few weeks of calibration work to do before science data gathering can begin.

Kepler ejects its dust cover

NASA / Ames / JPL-Caltech

Kepler ejects its dust cover
On April 7, Kepler ejected the 1.7 - by - 1.3 - meter cover that had protected its sensitive photometer from dust since launch. With the cover removed, it could start collecting starlight. Download a high-resolution version of this animation here.

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