The Kepler mission has ended

  • The Kepler mission has ended

The Kepler mission has ended

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.

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

Also, Kepler made the first recognition of planets in our galaxy and became the first mission of the United States space agency to detect planets the size of the Earth in the habitable zones of their stars.

"We know the spacecraft's retirement isn't the end of Kepler's discoveries", said Jessie Dotson, Kepler's project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center.

NASA has retired its Kepler space telescope, which discovered some 2,600 planets outside of the solar system over its nine-year mission, because it has run out of fuel needed for further operations.

"It not only showed us how many planets could be out there, but it also generated a whole new field of research. Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalising mysteries and possibilities among the stars".

Kepler has opened our eyes to the diversity of planets that exist in our galaxy.

Between 20 and 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky likely have rocky Earth-sized planets orbiting in their habitable zones, Kepler found.

Originally created to look for Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of stars like the sun, Kepler instead found a rich diversity of planets around many different types of stars. Kepler also found nature often produces jam-packed planetary systems, in some cases with so many planets orbiting close to their parent stars that our own inner solar system looks sparse by comparison.

By looking out into the galaxy, and feeding back an ongoing stream of stellar data, Kepler brought us closer to the stars than any spacecraft, and stirred the desire for cosmic understanding among professional and amateur alike. 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. 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.

But the mission was not without its hiccups - in 2013, mechanical failures stopped Kepler's observations. The new mission was dubbed K2. By investigating a tiny slice of the sky, Kepler has detected light from many thousands of these stars in its view, and variations in the light received has been an indicator of planets. Luckily for planet hunters, NASA's TESS mission launched in April and will take over the exoplanet search.Kepler's HistoryThe Kepler mission was conceived in the early 1980s by NASA scientist Bill Borucki, with later help from David Koch. Kepler telescope had been running low on fuel for months.

With Kepler retiring after an illustrious planet-hunting career, a new telescope will take its place. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development.