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After nine years of operation in deep space collecting data, Kepler Spacecraft has retired. NASA has decided to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. Space observatory launched on March 7, 2009, into an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit. The telescope’s reaction control system fuel was depleted, and NASA announced its retirement on October 30, 2018.
Consequently, Kepler Spacecraft leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 planet discoveries from outside our solar system, many of which could be promising places for life.
“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
One of the NASA’s astronomers mention “Without this mission, we wouldn’t have done tests, we wouldn’t have been looking for planetary atmospheres”. “So Kepler really opened the door to a new investigation path.”
The most common size of planet that Kepler has discovered doesn’t exist in our solar system because a world is between the size of Earth and Neptune.
“When we started conceiving this mission 35 years ago, we didn’t know of a single planet outside our solar system,” said the Kepler mission’s founding principal investigator, William Borucki, now retired from NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. “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.”
While Kepler’s mission was to search for planets about 3,000 light-years away, NASA launched a new spacecraft called Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS for short. You may read about TESS Here;
- NASA’s Newest Planet Hunter (TESS) Snaps Its First Test Image
- Well-Known Planet Hunter Has Just Discovered Its First Alien World
- TESS Planet Hunter Launches this Month Searching Sky for New Worlds.
Image Credit: NASA
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