Thursday, 15 November, 2018


NASA bids goodbye to planet-hunting Kepler space telescope

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a file image the US space agency's Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel and is being retired after nine years The Kepler space telescope's end has finally come
Kristine Garrett | 02 November, 2018, 09:56

After that, it will drift silently in a safe orbit trailing the Earth (at a distance of 94 million miles in March 2018, though this will continue to increase over time).

Over the course of its nine years, Kepler identified 2,662 planets and 61 supernovae on just 3.12 gallons of fuel.

The Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel and will be retired after a 9-1/2-year mission in which it detected thousands of planets beyond our solar system and boosted the search for worlds that might harbor alien life, NASA said on Tuesday.

Kepler's discoveries have shed a new light on mankind's place in the Universe.

Nasa's Kepler space telescope, shown in this artist's concept, revealed that there are more planets than stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

The most recent analysis of Kepler's discoveries concludes that 20 to 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky are likely to have small (possibly rocky) exoplanets similar in size to Earth.

Kepler helped astronomers find potential planets by glimpsing moments when planets passed in front of their stars.

Stylized artwork shows NASA's Kepler space telescope among planetary systems.

Tess will mainly scout for planets in the Goldilocks zone of a star.

"The Kepler mission has been an enormous success", said Bill Borucki, the original Kepler principal investigator and leader of the team that convinced NASA to build and launch the $692 million mission in 2009.

For years, Kepler stared at a fixed area of the sky bridging the constellations Lyra and Cygnus to monitor about 150,000 stars for signs of planets.

"The Kepler mission was based on a very innovative design".

NASA's venerable Kepler space telescope, which discovered almost 2,700 exoplanets in distant star systems, has officially been retired after finally running out of fuel, the space agency wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

There was a lot of malfunction that happened with steering and dwindling hydrazine fuel levels costing $600 million spacecraft which stayed in action nearly for nine years and with 19 observation campaigns which are longer than its original four-year mission. In 2014, NASA announced the K2 "Second Light" extension, which increased the telescope's surveyed star count to more than 500,000.

The observation of so many stars has allowed scientists to better understand stellar behaviors and properties, which is critical information in studying the planets that orbit them. Almost a decade's worth of disclosures has also led to improved understanding of our Milky Way and supernovae.

In fact, scientists are expected to spend the next 10-plus years searching for new discoveries in the "treasure trove" of Kepler knowledge.

Kepler has revolutionised our understanding of the universe.

Mission scientists anxious that the spacecraft may have been irreparably rendered ineffective after the steering malfunction in 2012, though they eventually came up with an ingenious solution in 2013 using pressure generated by the sun's rays to compensate for a failed reaction wheel and aim it at observation targets.

In a briefing with reporters, agency officials said that Kepler ended operations after exhausting the last of its hydrazine fuel used for attitude control.

The latest data, from Campaign 19, will complement the data from Nasa's newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched in April.

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