NASA Retires Kepler Telescope, the Most Prolific Planet Hunter of All Time

NASA image of star cluster discovered by Kepler

NASA image of star cluster discovered by Kepler

The planet-hunting space telescope discovered thousands of alien worlds around distant stars since its launch in 2009. "(...) Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe", Zurbuchen added.

The information received from Kepler was made accessible to the public and resulted in a phenomenal explosion in citizen science - hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world helped sift through the data, revealing exoplanets that others (and other computers) had missed. An entirely new class of planets not present in our solar system, super-Earths with sizes between those of Earth and Neptune, is one of Kepler's most significant discoveries. 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.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered everything from a cosmic bat shadow to a skull and crossbones nebula, so among all the spooky images it's nice to spot a friendly face. Some of these include rocky planets in their stars' habitable zones, where temperatures allow liquid water to exist on their surfaces.

More news: The Walking Dead Cast Pay Tribute to Andrew Lincoln
More news: Canada Post workers join rotating strikes in Hamilton, Ont., La Mauricie, Que
More news: 'Saturday Night Live' Hilariously Cranks Up Panic Over The Caravan

But the mission was not without its hiccups - in 2013, mechanical failures stopped Kepler's observations. 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. The new mission was dubbed K2.

The Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes or MAST at the Space Telescope Science Institute will make the data accumulated over almost a decade of deep space observation available to the public. These data will enable new scientific discoveries for years to come. 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.

Both spacecraft used chemical fuel to twist themselves back toward Earth and beam their findings home; without that fuel there was no way to learn from our distant emissaries. Kepler's more advanced successor is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched in April. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), whose launch has been delayed to 2021, will be capable of studying the atmospheres of planets discovered by TESS and identifying their chemical compositions. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado, operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Recommended News

  • Cricket Australia chairman Peever departs

    Cricket Australia chairman Peever departs

    Peever resigned on Thursday just a week after re-election for a second, three-year term as Cricket Australia chairman. CA could not immediately be reached for comment.
    Elementary School Teachers In Idaho Dress As Trump’s Border Wall For Halloween

    Elementary School Teachers In Idaho Dress As Trump’s Border Wall For Halloween

    Faculty at the elementary school reportedly held a costume competition that involved dressing up to represent various countries. Middleton also said he didn't think the staffers donned the costumes maliciously, but reiterated that it was "poor judgment".
    Jones passionately defends Owen Farrell and England after Springboks win

    Jones passionately defends Owen Farrell and England after Springboks win

    In the first meeting between the two heavyweights since 2014, England may also need to create tries to overcome the All Blacks. England head coach Jones told Sky Sports: "It was a tough old Test match, we had players out on their feet the last 20".
  • Last words of Sydney man who died after eating slug for dare

    Katie Ballard with her Sam who was left severely disabled after contracting meningitis and was in a coma for over 400 days. Michael Sheasby said: "When I walked in, he was very, very gaunt, and there were cables everywhere". "It was a big shock".
    Klopp on the European Super League: Less matches and more money

    Klopp on the European Super League: Less matches and more money

    Information regarding that meeting was also included in the " Football Leaks " documents, German magazine Der Spiegel reported. It seems Klopp has a clear view of what the creation of a " Super League " would do to football - and it's nothing good.
    Raheem Sterling hails ‘brilliant’ Reds as title race hots up

    Raheem Sterling hails ‘brilliant’ Reds as title race hots up

    Pep Guardiola side displayed classy football against the Saints in what could be described as a one-sided game. Asked what has been the biggest change he has seen in Sterling, the City manager said: "His head".
  • China president vows to boost imports, raps protectionism

    China president vows to boost imports, raps protectionism

    Either way, few people are expecting the import summit to lead to a breakthrough in global trade tensions. So far, that's primarily meant easing rules on foreign ownership of financial firms and automakers.
    Jackie Bradley Jr, Mookie Betts, Ian Kinsler all win Gold Gloves

    Jackie Bradley Jr, Mookie Betts, Ian Kinsler all win Gold Gloves

    He is the third first baseman in Cubs history to win the award alongside 4-time victor Mark Grace and 2-time victor Derrek Lee. It was Rizzo's second career gold glove award of his standout career.

    Egyptian security forces kill 19 militants in desert shootout

    Those killed were part of the group that killed seven Coptic Christian pilgrims in the same province on Friday, the ministry said. They are the Middle East's largest Christian community and have long complained of persecution and insufficient protection.
  • Best Black Friday 2018 headphone deals (early edition)

    Best Black Friday 2018 headphone deals (early edition)

    Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its profit to communities, which today equals millions of dollars a week. The discounts are separated into two categories: doorbusters and regular Black Friday deals.
    Brexit donor Arron Banks denies Russian Federation  connection

    Brexit donor Arron Banks denies Russian Federation connection

    Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said Mr Banks' appearance on the Andrew Marr Show had been "remarkable". He told MPs: "The actual loan came from one of my companies that was delivered in".
    X Factor WILL reopen public vote despite technical disaster last night

    X Factor WILL reopen public vote despite technical disaster last night

    During last night's performances, a message flashed up on screen noting the issue - yet the show still went on, despite this. The sound issues could be heard during the performance by Danny Tetley and continued through Anthony Russell's song.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.