Big NASA Space Missions Ended This Week, But Don't Panic

NASA image of Kepler

NASA image of Kepler

It is reported that the spacecraft Kepler has exhausted its fuel and can no longer perform scientific operations. Kepler also found nature often produces jam-packed planetary systems, in some cases with so many planets orbiting close to their parent stars that our own inner solar system looks sparse by comparison. The telescope was able to send data for five years more, until now.

Kepler was originally positioned to stare at one star-studded patch of the sky in the constellation Cygnus. That means that they are located at a distance from the stars that orbit where liquid water, a vital ingredient for life as we know it, can accumulate on the surface of these exoplanets.

Kepler was launched in 2009 and was expected to continue transmissions from the largest digital space camera then in use for three and a half years.

While the data collection phase for Kepler has ended, STScI's Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes will continue to make all data from the Kepler observatory available in perpetuity.

But the mission was not without its hiccups - in 2013, mechanical failures stopped Kepler's observations. Kepler's readings have helped scientists study in depth the history of our Milky Way galaxy and the early stages of supernovae.

Charlie Sobeck, a project system engineer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California said that due to the fuel weariness the Kepler spacecraft has thrust the conclusion of its service life.

"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".

NASA recently announced that it has chose to end the mission of the Kepler space telescope, an instrument that has served to discover more than 2,600 exoplanets in the last nine years.

This illustration depicts NASA's exoplanet hunter, the Kepler space telescope.

Kepler was replaced by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which was launched in April. As an astronomical passing of the baton, in the last month of Kepler's mission, both TESS and Kepler simultaneously observed over a hundred of the same stars.

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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