Published: Mon, November 05, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

The Kepler telescope has stopped its work

The Kepler telescope has stopped its work

When Kepler was still being brainstormed by NASA 35 years ago, there was no proof of any planets beyond our solar system.

NASA launched the Kepler observatory in March of 2009 and, in less than a decade, raked in more than 2,600 confirmed sightings of these 'exoplanets'. Meaning it found more planets lurking out there than even stars. "Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars". This puts the dwarf planet in the growing category of ocean worlds being discovered in our solar system that could potentially host microbial life. Scientists have said that Kepler telescope, which helps in discovering 2,600 planets, has finished fuel, so he is retiring. The knowledge that there are planets scattered everywhere opens almost endless possibilities, and keeps pushing expectations for Kepler's successor TESS and other upcoming missions. High-quality data from ground-based telescopes requires long observations on the largest telescopes-precious resources that limit the number of planets that can be observed.We now know that there are at least as many planets in the galaxy as there are stars, and many of those planets are quite unlike what we have here in the solar system. NASA's elemental planet researching space telescope has run out of gas.

These planets are within the habitable zone of their stars and may have liquid water. "It was an extremely clever approach to doing this kind of science", says director for astronomy and physics at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Leslie Livesay.

Four years into the mission, after the primary mission objectives had been met, mechanical failures temporarily halted observations. "There were definitely challenges, but Kepler had an extremely talented team of scientists and engineers who overcame them". While spacecraft operations have ceased, its data will continue to be publicly available through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute. The new mission was dubbed K2.

Both spacecraft used chemical fuel to twist themselves back toward Earth and beam their findings home; without that fuel there was no way to learn from our distant emissaries. The latest data, from Campaign 19, will complement the data from NASA's newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched in April.

Planet stalking Kepler space telescope meets its end.

NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

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