NASA Retires Kepler Telescope, the Most Prolific Planet Hunter of All Time

NASA image of Kepler

Kepler's data have provided insight into the nature and behavior of these exoplanets, as well as the history of our Milky Way galaxy and its stars. "Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars".

October 30 recorded 3,800 known exoplanets and Kepler was accountable for finding 2,720 of them.

Since it was launched in 2009, Kepler has aided astronomers around the world in the hunt for planets outside of the solar system similar to Earth and orbiting other stars.

"The Kepler mission was based on a very innovative design".

"That means they're located at distances from their parent stars where liquid water -- a vital ingredient to life as we know it -- might pool on the planet surface". In the years since, astronomers have used Kepler observations to discover 2,818 exoplanets as well as another 2,679 exoplanet candidates which need further confirmation. The spacecraft continued to work past the limit researchers estimated but when it reached four years there was a mechanical problem that stopped it from running temporarily.

With the data collected by Kepler during its nine-year lifespan allowed scientists to visualize a more complete picture of worlds beyond our own.

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The Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes or MAST at the Space Telescope Science Institute will make the data accumulated over almost a decade of deep space observation available to the public.

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.

NASA says the telescope has "run out of fuel needed for further science operations", so it's retiring the spacecraft within its current safe orbit that's away from Earth. Now, however, Kepler's fantastic journey came to an end, many upcoming missions are waiting in the wings and will take over the exoplanet search.

These data are an inheritance of all humanity that will outlast the Kepler mission's brief life for time without limit.

NASA lauded the discoveries made by the spacecraft, many of which it said could be promising places for life. The latest data, from Campaign 19, will complement the data from NASA's newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched in April. TESS will follow in the footsteps of NASA's pioneering Kepler Mission, continuing the groundbreaking ...

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