Published: Fri, November 02, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Kepler Telescope Declared Dead After Running Low On Fuel For Months

Kepler Telescope Declared Dead After Running Low On Fuel For Months

Scientists will continue to search for planets using the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched earlier this year, the James Webb Space Telescope now scheduled for launch in 2021, and future spacecraft.

The old telescope has been running low on fuel for the past months, so scientists were waiting for this moment to come, preparing to download all the data gathered in the last months.

After using up all its fuel, the planet-hunting spacecraft is now in a safe orbit almost 100 million miles away from Earth.

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? Originally only created to operate for around three and a half years, the spacecraft ultimately spent over nine and a half years in operation.

This spacecraft has found thousands of new planets and studied more than half a million stars. "Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars", said Zurbuchen. In all, it looked at about 5,000 stars and discovered 2,681 confirmed planets.

Nearly lost in 2013 because of equipment failure, Kepler was salvaged by engineers and kept peering into the cosmos, thick with stars and galaxies, ever on the lookout for dips in in the brightness of stars that could indicate an orbiting planet.

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Kepler hands off the baton to TESS now, NASA said. The engineers from ground control have sent a command to the spacecraft to turn its transmitters off as it drifts silently into deep space. "The Kepler spacecraft uses reaction wheels to keep its pointing, so Kepler couldn't continue in the same way", Jessie Dodson, Kepler project scientist, said in a press conference. Hertz said that NASA does not provide any definitive list of how numerous planets discovered by Kepler might be Earth-like, but a scientific paper published several years ago listed 30.

Borucki, who dreamed up the mission decades ago, said one of his favorite discoveries was Kepler 22b, a water planet bigger than Earth but in an area where it is not too warm and not too cold - the type "that could lead to life".

Dotson noted, "We know the spacecraft's retirement isn't the end of Kepler's discoveries".

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"Kepler opened the gate for mankind's exploration of the cosmos."

". They dubbed this new mission K2, which found another 354 planets, with 473 additional candidates awaiting confirmation today. It found inferno-like gas giants, rocky planets, planets orbiting binary stars, Earth-size planets, planets in the habitable zone capable of supporting liquid water on the surface, planets twice the size of Earth, the strangely flickering Tabby's Star, new details about the TRAPPIST-1 planetsand, in December, an eight-planet system.

So what now? Several exoplanet-hunting missions are in the works, according to MIT Technology Review, including the James Webb Space Telescope, which is now due to launch in 2021 after a series of delays. This light would allow astronomers to take the spectrum of a planet and look for signs of habitability - and life.

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