Loren Grush, writing for The Verge: NASA engineers have declared a mission emergency for the agency's planet-hunting spacecraft Kepler, which has somehow switched into emergency mode. Now that a mission emergency has been declared, the Kepler team has priority access to NASA's deep space telecommunications system in order to try to get the spacecraft back to normal operations. Emergency mode is the lowest operational mode the spacecraft has. It also requires a lot more fuel than usual, which is why the Kepler mission team is working hard to get the spacecraft back to normal. But communication with Kepler isn't easy. The spacecraft is estimated to be 75 million miles away from Earth right now, according to NASA, so any communications signal traveling at the speed of light will take up to 13 minutes to travel to and from the spacecraft. Kepler has detected nearly 5,000 exoplanets over the years -- of which 1,000 have been confirmed.