NASA retires Kepler Space Telescope

NASA  Ames  Wendy Stenzel

NASA Ames Wendy Stenzel

Residing about 500 light years away, Kepler-186f resides within the hospitable zone of its orbit around its star, and could be a very strong candidate for having conditions suitable for extraterrestrial life.

The Kepler spacecraft launched in 2009 with the goal of finding exoplanets orbiting distant stars. It can see stars shake and vibrate; it can see starspots and flares; and, in favorable situations, it can see planets as small as the moon.Kepler's thousands of discoveries revolutionized our understanding of planets and planetary systems. The spacecraft discovered planets in all shapes and sizes and groupings. An entirely new class of planets not present in our solar system, super-Earths with sizes between those of Earth and Neptune, is one of Kepler's most significant discoveries.

"Now that we know planets are everywhere, Kepler has set us on a new course that's full of promise for future generations to explore our galaxy".

What Kepler found during its lifetime could be a guide not only in the continuing search for exoplanets, but the search for anything alive beyond Earth. 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.

Four years into the mission, after the primary mission objectives had been met, some mechanical failures temporarily halted observations. Indeed, one challenge for astronomers who want to study the properties of Kepler planets is that Kepler itself is often the best instrument to use. The data from the extended mission were also made available to the public and science community immediately, allowing discoveries to be made at an incredible pace and setting a high bar for other missions.

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

"We know the spacecraft's retirement isn't the end of Kepler's discoveries", says, Kepler's project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Jessie Dotson. Kepler telescope had been running low on fuel for months. Kepler's more advanced successor is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched in April.

Kepler's replacement - TESS - is already space-borne, and along with the upcoming James Webb Telescope, these platforms are hoped to bring our observations of the universe to a whole new level. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado, operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Notícias recomendadas

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.