Science

Nasa's planet-hunter telescope, Kepler, runs out of fuel

Nasa's planet-hunter telescope, Kepler, runs out of fuel”

The situation got even worse the next year, and engineers feared they would need to bid farewell to the Kepler space telescope then.

NASA's legendary Kepler space telescope has retired after running out of fuel needed for further science operations.

However, it extended well beyond its four-year mission and survived nine eventful years in the space.

In the announcement, NASA says that Kepler has been retired "within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth".

Now orbiting some 156 million kilometres from Earth, the spacecraft will drift further from our planet after its retirement, the United States space agency said.

There is so much data that scientists are expecting to spend a decade in search of treasure in the trove that Kepler has provided. It has also helped discover the first ever moon to be present beyond our solar system.

Researchers working on TESS expect to find at least 50 rocky, Earth-size worlds for scientists to scrutinize - perhaps double what Kepler has found. Originally only created to operate for around three and a half years, the spacecraft ultimately spent over nine and a half years in operation.

Looking forward, MAST is the home to the data from NASA's next great exoplanet hunting observatory, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

However, a solution was found and in 2014 the "K2" element of the mission began, using solar pressure to help stabilize the pointing direction and observe new patches of the night sky.

Later, these planets - and those found by Kepler - can be studied by the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be able to look closer at the atmospheres and possibly determine their habitability.

Nearly lost in 2013 because of equipment failure, Kepler was salvaged by engineers and kept peering into the cosmos, thick with stars and galaxies, ever on the lookout for dips in in the brightness of stars that could indicate an orbiting planet.

The unmanned space telescope, which launched in 2009, revealed that billions of hidden planets are in space and revolutionized humanity's understanding of the universe, experts said.

Tess project scientist Padi Boyd called Kepler's mission "stunningly successful". "I'm excited about the diverse discoveries that are yet to come from our data and how future missions will build upon Kepler's results".

This gif shows @NASAKepler's very final images.

Kepler started its mission not knowing whether Earth-sized planets were common. It has run out of fuel and no longer can point itself at stars to determine if planets are in orbit around them (exoplanets). Hertz said that NASA does not provide any definitive list of how numerous planets discovered by Kepler might be Earth-like, but a scientific paper published several years ago listed 30. At first, scientists didn't discover many exoplanets, but in just a short time, Kepler discovered thousands of exoplanets. Order yours before they're gone. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century.



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