Thursday, 22 November, 2018

The Kepler mission has ended

Spacewatch: Nasa retires planet hunter after it runs out of fuel NASA's planet-hunting Kepler telescope retires after nine years exploring space
Theresa Hayes | 07 November, 2018, 02:32

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. It explored an area of 150,000 stars in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler's data have provided insight into the nature and behavior of these exoplanets, as well as the history of our Milky Way galaxy and its stars. The most recent analysis of Kepler's discoveries concludes that 20 to 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky are likely to have small, possibly rocky, planets similar in size to Earth, and located within the habitable zone of their parent stars. Herz noted that scientific work is a space Observatory is complete.

These data are an inheritance of all humanity that will outlast the Kepler mission's brief life for time without limit. During K2, the Kepler spacecraft continued gathering the data necessary to hunt for exoplanets, and has allowed researchers to study other astrophysical questions.

"Kepler has exceeded all of our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond", Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy director of NASA's Science Missions Department, said in a statement. All of the data being collected are publicly accessible and can be downloaded from the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive. This will allow scientists to make new discoveries even if Kepler's mission has officially ended. The latest data, from Campaign 19, will complement the data from NASA's newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched in April. As an astronomical passing of the baton, in the last month of Kepler's mission, both TESS and Kepler simultaneously observed over a hundred of the same stars. NASA has chose to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. TESS will follow in the footsteps of NASA's pioneering Kepler Mission, continuing the groundbreaking ...

"We know the spacecraft's retirement isn't the end of Kepler's discoveries", says, Kepler's project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Jessie Dotson. In the years since, astronomers have used Kepler observations to discover 2,818 exoplanets as well as another 2,679 exoplanet ...

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