Science

After finding thousands of planets, NASA's Kepler mission ends

After finding thousands of planets, NASA's Kepler mission ends”

"Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars", said Zurbuchen.

NASA has retired its Kepler space telescope, which discovered more than 2,600 planets outside our solar system during its nine-year lifespan.

NASA's most prolific planet-hunter is powering down after almost a decade of revealing the diversity of our galaxy's planets.

NASA announced on Tuesday that the Kepler mission - which has transformed how we understand planets outside of our solar system - is officially over. "Now that we know planets are everywhere, Kepler has set us on a new course that's full of promise for future generations to explore our galaxy". It found inferno-like gas giants, rocky planets, planets orbiting binary stars, Earth-size planets, planets in the habitable zone capable of supporting liquid water on the surface, planets twice the size of Earth, the strangely flickering Tabby's Star, new details about the TRAPPIST-1 planets and, in December, an eight-planet system.

The telescope's findings indicate that distant star systems are populated with billions of planets, and it even helped pinpoint the first moon known outside our solar system. Kepler also found nature often produces jam-packed planetary systems, in some cases with so many planets orbiting close to their parent stars that our own inner solar system looks sparse by comparison.

As we prepare to say goodbye to these two record-breaking missions, we rejoice in the fact that discoveries will still arise from their data decades into the future.

Earlier this year, it became clear that the Kepler Space Telescope was running low on fuel - NASA has since been planning a replacement to take over the iconic satellite's ongoing search for exoplanets.

The telescope has also been used to take brightness measurements from stars, to help understand their inner workings.

Now 94 million miles from Earth, Kepler should remain in a safe, stable orbit around the sun.

Kepler has finally run out of fuel.

In addition to the confirmed exoplanets it discovered Kepler found an additional 2,900 candidates awaiting vetting, many of which could be confirmed.

Jessie Dotson, Kepler project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, said, "I guess I feel like it was the little spacecraft that could".

The artist's concept depicts Kepler-69c, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, located about 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. That is, a small dip in the light from a star as the planet passed in front of it. "There were definitely challenges, but Kepler had an extremely talented team of scientists and engineers who overcame them".

"Because of Kepler, what we think about our place in the universe has changed", Hertz said.

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.

Since that time, NASA changed the craft's mission to adjust to the telescope's new normal, calling the updated mission K2.

NASA launched the Kepler telescope on March 6, 2009, to learn if Earth-like planets that might harbor life are common or rare in other star systems.



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