The Kepler mission has ended

Nov 07, 2018, 02:35
The Kepler mission has ended

The Kepler space telescope can not any more forage for planets orbiting other stars concluding the nine and half year mission representatives from the agency declared in a news conference. The telescope was able to send data for five years more, until now. Before the mission, our knowledge of planets outside our solar system that orbit a star was woefully lacking. This will allow scientists to make new discoveries even if Kepler's mission has officially ended.

The most recent data Kepler gathered revealed that between 20 and 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky are likely to have small planets, possibly rocky ones, similar in size to the Earth and located in the so-called "habitable zone".

When the telescope was launched, it carried 12 liters of fuel for its engine, which was used to correct its drifts and control its orbit.

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"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. The spacecraft, with a 1.4-meter diameter telescope, discovered almost 3000 exoplanets and many potential candidates that are still awaiting confirmation.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered everything from a cosmic bat shadow to a skull and crossbones nebula, so among all the spooky images it's nice to spot a friendly face. The second phase of Kepler's mission was called K2 and the discoveries in this extended mission further improved our understanding of planets and planetary systems.

Thanks to Kepler, the study of exoplanets has seen a remarkable boost in the past decade.

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After its four-year primary mission, the spacecraft was repurposed to observe the stars near the zodiacal constellations. NASA has chose to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. Kepler discovered over 2,600 planets outside our Solar System.

Are we alone? NASA's new planet-hunting mission, poised to launch Monday, aims to advance the search for extraterrestrial life by scanning the skies for nearby, Earth-like planets. "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".

Black holes are among the most elusive objects in the universe, but research out of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) suggests the remnant cores of burned-out stars could be the key to making the first observation ...

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