Kepler on verge of death


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The Kepler space telescope is now almost out of fuel, and scientists have ceased science observations to devote the telescope’s last days downloading its last 51 days of data.

The telescope lasted far longer than planned, and discovered thousands of exoplanets. Its archives will be producing new discoveries for decades. And a new exoplanet space telescope, TESS, is already in orbit to take over.

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2 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    Any word on when it is expected to reenter and where the anticipated impact will be? Or will the last fuel burn be to send it to a distant parking orbit?

  • Localfluff

    @Col Beausabre
    Kepler will not reenter anytime soon, as in multiples of its lifetime thus far, if ever. It actually has another deadline coming up soon even if the fuel hadn’t ran out before. It is not orbiting Earth, but the Sun slightly slightly further away from it Than Earth does (by 1.33% on average). So it has gradually gotten further and further away from Earth. Which slowly has made radio communications with it harder, but still fully useful within its expected fuel lifetime. They could easily have given it an orbit that never hits Earth, and I think they would prefer that, but I’m not sure.

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