NASA Officially Announced The ‘Death’ Of The Kepler Space Telescope

Katie Ramirez
November 5, 2018

This telescope is going to retire after 9 years of service.

Scientists were surprised by evidence that Ceres could be geologically active, has chemistry that could support life, and may harbor a subsurface ocean or may have harbored one in its past. Now, however, the spacecraft has run out of its hydrazine fuel and officially entered retirement. TESS's observing pattern, rather than staring at a single part of the sky, will scan almost the entire sky with overlapping fields of view (much like the petals on a flower).Duration of TESS's observations on the celestial sphere, taking into account the overlap between sectors.(Graphic: Nasa) Given what we learned from Kepler, astronomers expect TESS to find thousands more planetary systems.

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"Not only did it show us how many planets could be out there, it sparked an entirely new and robust field of research that has taken the science community by storm", Zurbuchen said. Originally positioned to stare continuously at 150,000 stars in one star-studded patch of the sky in the constellation Cygnus, Kepler took the first survey of planets in our galaxy and became the agency's first mission to detect Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of their stars.

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 final catalog of planet candidates from the original mission was completed late last year and the last observations of K2 are wrapping up.Kepler's ScienceSqueezing what knowledge we can from this data will continue for years to come, but what we've seen thus far has amazed scientists across the globe.We have seen some planets that orbit their host stars in only a few hours and are so hot that the surface rock vaporizes and trails behind the planet like a comet tail. The planet-hunting space telescope discovered thousands of alien worlds around distant stars since its launch in 2009. The knowledge that there are planets scattered everywhere opens almost endless possibilities, and keeps pushing expectations for Kepler's successor TESS and other upcoming missions. The fixes actually extended the life of the spacecraft, and allowed Kepler to survey more than 500,000 stars. "There were definitely challenges, but Kepler had an extremely talented team of scientists and engineers who overcame them". The latest data, from Campaign 19, will complement the data from NASA's newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched in April. Ceres and Vesta are important to the study of distant planetary systems, too, as they provide a glimpse of the conditions that may exist around young stars,"said mission principal investigator Carol Raymond of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in a NASA news release". TESS builds on Kepler's foundation with fresh batches of data in its search of planets orbiting some 200,000 of the brightest and nearest stars to the Earth, worlds that can later be explored for signs of life by missions, such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

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