NASA Officially Announced The ‘Death’ Of The Kepler Space Telescope

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Closer to home, Dawn marked several firsts in robotic space exploration, including the first spacecraft to orbit two separate objects, the first to orbit any object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and the first science mission to use ion propulsion, a technology that gave the spacecraft additional velocity and enabled it to orbit Vesta, then depart, travel to Ceres and enter orbit around the dwarf planet.

NASA launched the Kepler telescope on March 6, 2009, in a bid to find out if Earth-like planets that may harbour life are common or rare in other star systems. 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. "(...) Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe", Zurbuchen added. Kepler discovered thousands of planets with varying characteristics.

NASA says the telescope has "run out of fuel needed for further science operations", so it's retiring the spacecraft within its current safe orbit that's away from Earth. High-quality data from ground-based telescopes requires long observations on the largest telescopes-precious resources that limit the number of planets that can be observed.We now know that there are at least as many planets in the galaxy as there are stars, and many of those planets are quite unlike what we have here in the solar system. Now, however, Kepler's fantastic journey came to an end, many upcoming missions are waiting in the wings and will take over the exoplanet search.

But the mission was not without its hiccups - in 2013, mechanical failures stopped Kepler's observations. The mission was re-christened as K2 and continued finding planets for another half decade. TESS builds on Kepler's foundation with fresh batches of data in its search of planets orbiting some 200,000 of the brightest and nearest stars to the Earth, worlds that can later be explored for signs of life by missions, such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA lauded the discoveries made by the spacecraft, many of which it said could be promising places for life.

An artist's concept of NASA's Kepler spacecraft. 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.

NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.