Kepler Telescope Declared Dead After Running Low On Fuel For Months

This artist’s rendering provided by NASA shows the Kepler space telescope. AP

This artist’s rendering provided by NASA shows the Kepler space telescope. AP

During its nine-year life span, the Kepler space telescope discovered more than 2,600 planets outside our solar system and expanded our understanding of the universe.

In the announcement, NASA says that Kepler has been retired "within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth". The data is still being analyzed, but it indicates that there are probably billions more exoplanets in our galaxy, some which may contain life.

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.

And those discoveries have helped shape future missions. TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched in April and is the newest planet hunter for NASA.

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Four years into the mission, after the primary mission objectives had been met, some mechanical failures temporarily halted observations. Kepler watched the very beginning of exploding stars, or supernovae, to gain unprecedented insight about stars and witnessed the death of a solar system.

"Basically, Kepler opened the gate for mankind's exploration of the cosmos", William Borucki, Kepler's now-retired chief investigator, told reporters.

NASA's Kepler space telescope is done with its work collecting astounding science data showing there are more planets than stars in our Milky Way Galaxy. Already well past its expected lifetime, the 9-year-old Kepler had been running low on fuel for months. "Many are still hiding in the data, ready to be discovered", said Susan Mullally, a scientist working on the Kepler mission at STScI.

But the main thing - the telescope confirmed that it is theoretically habitable planets orbit roughly every third star that you can see in the night sky.

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In its nine years in space, Kepler helped scientists spot potential planets by observing transits, or the moment when a space object passes in front of a star.

Armed with the latest state-of-the-art equipment, do you think that TESS will discover what the Kepler Space Telescope failed to find: alien life forms and habitable planets? The mission was called K2 and found 350 exoplanets more than the ones uncovered since it was launched in 2009.

"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 Center in California's Silicon Valley. And in 2017 "Kepler" found "assosolare system" of the eight planets just like ours (after Pluto was demoted and transferred to the category of dwarf planets). "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". It has even spotted a number of planets, many of which could have life, that were dubbed "Earth 2.0"; showing that they are more common than scientists previously thought. It is an effort that will define the next half-century of Nasa science, as a new generation of spacecraft and instruments searches for signs of life on the ocean worlds orbiting Jupiter and Saturn, in the sands of Mars and on the rocky worlds that are now known to orbit nearby suns.

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