Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Nasa declares planet hunter Kepler Space Telescope dead

The Kepler space telescope's end has finally come NASA's Kepler spacecraft dead after discovering thousands of planets
Guillermo Lane | 02 November, 2018, 09:56

The US space agency's Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel and is being retired after nine and a half years, having helped discover more than 2,600 planets, some of which may hold life, officials said Tuesday. "Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars".

The Kepler space telescope of NASA which discovered 2,700 exoplanets distant star systems is now officially retired after running out of fuel.

"We have shown that there are more planets than stars in our galaxy", Borucki said. "Now that we know planets are everywhere, Kepler has set us on a new course that's full of promise for future generations to explore our galaxy". Kepler was created to survey more than 100,000 stars in our galaxy to determine the number of sun-like stars that have Earth-size and larger planets, including those that lie in a star's 'habitable zone, ' a region where liquid water, and perhaps life, could exist.

Kepler - which detected exoplanets by spotting the minute dips in a star's light as a planet passes before it - has experienced a number of technical issues over the years.

Tess will mainly scout for planets in the Goldilocks zone of a star.

Every bit of scientific data collected by Kepler was transmitted to scientists on Earth, and exciting discoveries based on the last bits of data are yet to come, NASA said.

NASA's venerable Kepler space telescope, which discovered almost 2,700 exoplanets in distant star systems, has officially been retired after finally running out of fuel, the space agency wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

"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. It also revealed the diversity of planets in our galaxy.

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Now 94 million miles from Earth, Kepler should remain in a safe, stable orbit around the sun.

Scientists were able to get all the data from Kepler down to Earth before it completely ran dry.

"We saw it drop from 90 psi [pounds per square inch] all the way down to 25 psi" over a few hours, said Charlie Sobeck, project system engineer for Kepler at NASA's Ames Research Center.

Nasa has switched off the Kepler space telescope permanently after announcing that it had "exceeded all expectations".

Stylized artwork shows NASA's Kepler space telescope among planetary systems. When scientists factored those finds into statistical formulas that take Kepler's limitations into account, they concluded that 20 to 50 percent of the Milky Way's stars may have rocky planets in habitable zones. As of October 29, Kepler had detected 2,681 exoplanets, with an additional 2,899 exoplanet candidates awaiting confirmation, said Jessie Dotson, Kepler project scientist at NASA Ames. "There were definitely challenges, but Kepler had an extremely talented team of scientists and engineers who overcame them".

Continuing with Kepler's work is NASA's Transitting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which launched in April to survey an area of the sky 400 times larger than that observed by its predecessor.

Four years into the mission, after the primary mission objectives had been met, mechanical failures temporarily halted observations.

"The Kepler mission has paved the way for future exoplanet studying missions".

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