Kepler Space Telescope Died After More Than 9 Years of Observations

Kepler Space Telescope Died After More Than 9 Years of Observations

Nasa's new space observatory, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or Tess, has already taken up the search for planets in the nearby cosmos, and giant telescopes both on the ground and in space are being created to detect and observe exoplanets - planets that circle stars outside our solar system.

But the telescope has now run out of the fuel needed for further operations. NASA has chose to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth.

After over-working, the Kepler Space Telescope is finally taking its final nap. Originally only created to operate for around three and a half years, the spacecraft ultimately spent over nine and a half years in operation.

In a statement, NASA said data collected from Kepler's deep space missions indicates our sky is filled with billions of hidden planets - more than the stars.

Initially situated to gaze consistently at 150,000 stars in a single ritzy fix of the sky in the constellation Cygnus, Kepler took the primary study of planets in the cosmic system and turned into NASA's first mission to identify Earth- size planets in the livable zones of their stars. "Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalising mysteries and possibilities among the stars".

NASAAn illustration of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) detecting potentially habitable alien worlds. After 9 1/2 years in orbit, 530,506 stars observed and 2,662 planets around other stars discovered, the little spacecraft will be left to drift forever around the sun.

Kepler's data also provided a new way to assess whether a planet had a solid surface, like Earth and Mars, or is gaseous, like Jupiter and Saturn.

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When launched, it was expected to last only six years, but it managed to outlive its designed lifespan by three years.

Kepler finds planets by looking for small dimming events called transits, which happen when a planet passes in front of its star (from Earth's perspective), causing a slight dimming of the planet. The two Kepler missions discovered and confirmed the existence of 2,681 planets in all. It will slowly start drifting further away from Earth when the NASA engineers switch off the radio transmitters on it, informed NASA.

"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.

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

"The search for planets is the search for life", said Natalie Batalha, a longtime Kepler mission scientist now at the University of California, Santa Cruz, during a conference in 2017.

NASA states that all data is available to the public and the science community, in efforts to allow new discoveries to be made at a much faster pace.

The James Webb Space Telescope is set to replace Kepler in March 2021, after significant delays. JWST will take pictures in infrared light, which is invisible to human eyes yet flawless for studying planets through the clouds of gas and dust in space that typically obscure distant worlds.