NASA is Shutting Down Kepler Space Telescope


Kepler Space Telescope is one of the most successful instruments ever used to study planets and the outer space. Over the years, NASA made some outstanding discoveries thanks to it, but, just like everything else in this world, Kepler reached its final destination this month.

On November 15, the telescope has been shut down. The operation shouldn’t be surprising, because the Space Agency had announced their intention of “saying goodnight” to the sun-orbiting observatory since October 30th.

NASA considered that there is no more scientific work to be done by Kepler. Their decision was influenced by the fact that the spacecraft had run out of fuel, but they also considered that the telescope deserves some rest for serving mankind all these years.

The spacecraft was the main element from a $700 million mission. It was launched in the outer space in March 2009, having an important task: to find out how planets similar to Earth behave throughout the Milky Way galaxy. Also, it could stare at over 150,000 stars simultaneously.

In 2013, NASA ended Kepler’s original mission and in 2014 they started another important quest – KA2. Among other major findings, Kepler discovered alien worlds via the so-called “transit method”. In addition, it contributed to the finding of 2,682 exoplanets.

This means that around 70% of all undiscovered worlds known until today were noticed thank to Kepler Space Telescope. Besides, it leaves a precious legacy – almost 2,900 unknown items spotted during the K2 mission are waiting to be studied.

The decommissioning commands could be sent in a few weeks

NASA’s officials declared that Kepler’s mission team was responsible for disabling the safety modes which could turn the telescope’s systems back on. They also shut down the transmitters, so that no unauthorized operation could interfere with the process of putting the telescope to rest.

Kepler received the final commands from its operations centre situated in Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics from the University of Colorado. The spacecraft cannot be returned to its mission once it’s refilled. At present, Kepler is orbiting around the Sun and it is situated around 151 million kilometres (94 million miles) above the Earth.


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