Kepler Space Telescope Retired By NASA, World Update

NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has run out of fuel

Enlarge NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has run out

Flight controllers will disable the spacecraft's transmitters, before bidding a final "good night".

Both missions, with their vastly distinct data sets, have given scientists here on Earth a lot to think about. "That was an wonderful diving catch", said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters.

The driving force behind Kepler was Bill Borucki, the now-retired principal investigator for the mission at NASA Ames.

Stylized artwork shows NASA's Kepler space telescope among planetary systems. Over the years mission managers have altered its tasks accordingly.

Kepler has studied more than 500,000 stars in this way. It proposed that the telescope be used as best as possible under the circumstances. Starting in 2014, this new mission was dubbed K2.

Kepler's mission is over, but its legacy lives on. "That's what told us very, very clearly that we were now out of fuel and operating on fumes".

"We know the spacecraft's retirement isn't the end of Kepler's discoveries", said Jessie Dotson, Kepler's project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Centre in California's Silicon Valley. This type of planet does not exist in our solar system.

It also experienced problems with one of its thrusters around the time it began its 19th observation campaign in late August 2018 and went into sleep mode, though NASA was able to bring it back online in September.

There are many exoplanet-hunting missions on the horizon as well.

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The Kepler Space Telescope. Its positioning system broke down in 2013 about four years after its launch, though scientists found a way to keep it operational. "In 2001 we submitted our fifth proposal to NASA".

Goodbye, Kepler. And though you may be drifting in the dark tens of millions of miles away from your homeworld, you showed that the cosmos may not be so lonely, and your contributions will not be forgotten.

The NASA Kepler space observatory's utterly successful nine-year-old mission to seek out Earth-size planets orbiting other stars has come to a glorious end. It was announced in 2012 that the mission would be extended through 2016, the agency provided roughly $20 million per year for its operation.

Now orbiting some 156 million kilometres from Earth, the spacecraft will drift further from our planet after its retirement, the USA space agency said. "We knew when we launched, that the spacecraft would ultimately be limited by its fuel load".

"As NASA's first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement.

"In the closer term, numerous planetary systems that we found with Kepler will be observed by the James Webb Space Telescope to try to understand are there atmospheres and to learn more to characterize those planets", Jessie Dotson, Kepler project scientist at Ames told SpaceFlight Insider.

Launched on March 6, 2009, the Kepler space telescope combined cutting-edge techniques in measuring stellar brightness with the largest digital camera outfitted for outer space observations at that time.

The telescope laid bare the diversity of planets that reside in our Milky Way galaxy, with findings indicating that distant star systems are populated with billions of planets, and even helped pinpoint the first moon known outside our solar system.

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