The Kepler space telescope's end has finally come

The Kepler space telescope's end has finally come

The Kepler space telescope's end has finally come

The telescope was responsible for scanning space in search of distant planets that could hold alien life.

Stylized artwork shows NASA's Kepler space telescope among planetary systems. It leaves behind a wealth of data about exoplanets that has revolutionized humanity's understanding of the galaxy. "We expect to reach that moment within several months", he said, adding, "Our current estimates are that Kepler's tank will run dry within several months".

In a briefing with reporters, agency officials said that Kepler ended operations after exhausting the last of its hydrazine fuel used for attitude control.

Some of the final activities to shut the telescope down included turning off its radio transmitters and the disabling of its fault protection systems. The first data from TESS is already being sent to Earth and analyzed.

"This was not unexpected,"said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics division director at NASA Headquarters".

There's poetry in Kepler's ability to make us feel both small and also so connected to the rest of our universe.

An artist's rendition of the Kepler in space. Over the years mission managers have altered its tasks accordingly.

On July 14, 2012, one of the reaction wheels failed, leaving the spacecraft without a backup. K2 collected data on the formation of stars, supernovae as well as bodies within our own solar system.

Tess project scientist Padi Boyd called Kepler's mission "stunningly successful". "That's what told us very, very clearly that we were now out of fuel and operating on fumes". On the next day, Kepler's status improved as it entered "safe mode".

Borucki said his favorite exoplanet spotted by the telescope was Kepler 22B, located more than 600 light years from Earth.

By staring down stars, Kepler also unveiled incredible super Earths: planets bigger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.

The most common size of planet Kepler found doesn't exist in our solar system, however.

In June of 2016 NASA announced that K2 would be extended by three years - which placed it beyond the spacecraft's fuel reserves.

The Kepler Space Telescope.

Nasa's retired principal investigator for the Kepler mission, Bill Borucki, described it as an "enormous success".

Working in deep space for nine years, Kepler discovered planets from outside the solar system, many of which could be promising places for life. "In 2001 we submitted our fifth proposal to NASA".

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.

"We know the spacecraft's retirement isn't the end of Kepler's discoveries", according to Jessie Dotson, Kepler's project scientist at the Ames Research Center. "We knew when we launched, that the spacecraft would ultimately be limited by its fuel load". In its short life, Kepler has discovered 70 percent of the 3,750 exoplanets known to date.

Launched on March 6 in 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, reported Xinhua.

The end came just a few months shy of the 10th anniversary of Kepler's 2009 launch.

It's the pioneering telescope which, for those of us on Earth, filled the galaxy with planets.

. "We want to know what's out there".

Kepler discovered thousands of planets, many of them similar in size to the Earth (far right), though how they might appear is still a matter of speculation. What are the odds?

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

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