The Kepler Telescope Just Woke Up from its Hibernation

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The Kepler project is again awake and functioning after it took a short break from July to the 29th of August. After the year it had it surely deserved a nap. After NASA reported that the telescope was running low on fuel, it allowed the popular project to enjoy a short break this summer.

So far, the months of 2018 endured by Kepler have been quite rough, although NASA’s officials are feeling hopeful that it can complete its mission and enjoy a proper send-off as well. After its mission start in 2009, this space telescope managed to discover over 2650 planets until now. Costing NASA approximately $600 million, the Kepler program remains one of the most successful space programs to date.

At the beginning, Kepler was used to studying stars rather than planets. It is capable of analyzing over 150000 stars at the same time. However, from time to time some dips in the stars’ brightness can be observed, which indicates the existence of orbiting planets. This is how NASA identifies thousands of planets with pinpoint accuracy.

Back in March, the overall excitement turned into anxiety as scientists reported for the first time that Kepler was running out of fuel. After surviving mechanical failures, space debris, cosmic rays bombardment, the space telescope has one more hurdle to exceed, its low fuel percentage.

NASA’s officials stated that “at this rate, the hardy spacecraft may reach its finish line in a manner we will consider a wonderful success. With nary a gas station to be found in deep space, the spacecraft is going to run out of fuel. We expect to reach that moment within several months”.

After the first reports came in regarding Kepler’s low fuel, they raised concerns in scientists as they thought that the telescope couldn’t reorient towards Earth and transmit the latest data. That’s how they reached the conclusion that they should shut it down for a while.


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