Goodbye, Kepler Space Telescope

This illustration made available by NASA shows the Kepler Space

This illustration made available by NASA shows the Kepler Space

After nine years and more than 500,000 stars observed, NASA's Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel and is embarking on a well-earned retirement. The deep space mission's end is not unexpected, as low fuel levels had been noted in July. Without fuel, the Kepler team has made a decision to retire the spacecraft, though it will continue to drift along in orbit around Earth for the foreseeable future.

William Borucki, the Kepler mission's founding principal investigator said, "When we started conceiving this mission 35 years ago, we didn't know of a single planet outside our solar system". The data is still being analyzed, but it indicates that there are probably billions more exoplanets in our galaxy, some which may contain life.

Once TESS' discoveries are confirmed, they could prove vital to the work of NASA's upcoming and powerful James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is scheduled to launch sometime in 2021.

Space Agency NASA officially terminates the space telescope Kepler.

Four years into the mission, the main goals had been met, but mechanical failures put a sudden end to future observations.

Kepler's mission lasted twice as long as planned.

Tess project scientist Padi Boyd called Kepler's mission "stunningly successful".

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

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In a photo from Tiago Campante/Peter Devine, an artist's conception of the Kepler-444 system, consisting of five planets orbiting a sun-like star. "Many are still hiding in the data, ready to be discovered", said Susan Mullally, a scientist working on the Kepler mission at STScI. The approximately $700 million spacecraft (including operations) will remain in a safe and stable orbit around the Sun forever.

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. This light would allow astronomers to take the spectrum of a planet and look for signs of habitability - and life.

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.

"W$3 e know there are more planets than stars in our universe", Paul Hertz, NASA's director of astrophysics, said in a press release about TESS. The most recent analysis of Kepler's discoveries concludes that 20 to 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky are likely to have small, possibly rocky, planets similar in size to Earth, and located within the habitable zone of their parent stars. Much of what we know about exoplanets today comes from the Kepler mission.

"While this may be a sad event, we are by no means unhappy with the performance of this marvellous machine", NASA project system engineer Charlie Sobeck said.

"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. "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".

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