NASA officially retires Kepler


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NASA today officially retired Kepler after nine years of operations.

After nine years in deep space collecting data that indicate our sky to be filled with billions of hidden planets – more planets even than stars – NASA’s Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel needed for further science operations. NASA has decided to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 planet discoveries from outside our solar system, many of which could be promising places for life.

Exoplanet hunting however does not end here. Unlike Hubble, astronomers and NASA planned ahead for Kepler’s demise, and this year launched TESS to continue its work, in an even more sophisticated manner.

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5 comments

  • pzatchok

    Even though it can not be moved to point at new stars couldn’t it be left on and downloading data until it just stops all on its own?

    If it has gyroscopes on it couldn’t those be used to reorient it slowly?

    Offer it up to private citizens or universities if they want to use it that way.

  • fred k

    I might add that the TESS + Kepler together cost one order of magnitude LESS than JWST.

  • Fred k

    pzatchok:

    Kepler is crippled. No fuel for stabilization, and only 1 gyro. So it will be (or is now) spinning without a way to control it.

    No control, means no meaningful data. Also, no way to point toward Earth for data download, AND, soon maybe no power because the solar panels aren’t oriented correctly.

  • pzatchok

    Thanks for the info Fred K

  • Col Beausabre

    Also, if it is spinning/tumbling,, it’s too dangerous for a putative rescue mission with fuel and new gyros to approach.

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