NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Retires After Running Out Of Fuel – 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.

kepler telescope

“As NASA’s first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The telescope, which launched in 2009, revealed that billions of hidden planets are in space and revolutionized humanity’s understanding of the universe, NASA’s  said. The telescope helped discover more than 2,600 planets, some of which may hold life.

Science results from the Kepler Mission:

Kepler has shown us our galaxy is teeming with terrestrial-size worlds, and many of them may be similar to Earth in size and distance from their parent stars. The most recent analysis of Kepler’s discoveries concludes that 20 to 50 percent of the stars in the sky are likely to have small, possibly rocky planets that are in the habitable zones of their stars where liquid water could pool on the surface.

Planets are diverse.
Kepler has discovered a diversity of planet types, opening our eyes to new possibilities.

Kepler telescope's results

The most common size of planet Kepler found doesn’t exist in our solar system — a world between the size of Earth and Neptune — and we have much to learn about these planets.

Solar systems are diverse too! 
While our own inner solar system has four planets, Kepler found systems with considerably more planets — up to eight — orbiting close to their parent stars. The existence of these compact systems raises questions about how solar systems form: Are these planets “born” close to their parent star, or do they form farther out and migrate in?

New insights revealed about stars.
Kepler observed more than a half million stars over the course of its nine years in operation.

Kepler’s observations of so many stars has been essential to understanding the basic properties of the planets that orbit them and is enhancing our understanding of the history and structure of our galaxy and the universe. Kepler has captured the beginning stages of exploding stars, called supernovae, with unprecedented precision, giving us new knowledge into how these stellar explosions begin.

Kepler’s demise was “not unexpected and this marks the end of spacecraft operations,” said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director at NASA, on a conference call with reporters.

Signals that fuel was nearly out were seen two weeks ago.

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