After about ten years during which Kepler Space Telescope, the most successful exoplanet hunter at the moment, discovered thousands of distant planets using the transient method, the spacecraft ended its mission and went dark. Before that, it managed to send the last set of data to Earth.
The Kepler Space Telescope took off in 2009 with the mission to study distant stars and discover potential exoplanets that might orbit them. Using the transient method, Kepler was “locking” on a star to observe any change in light, which might be caused by a potential space object that flies before the respective celestial body.
With that technique, Kepler identified thousands of exoplanets, some of which are orbiting their host stars within the so-called Goldilocks Zone (the ideal distance a planet must be from its star to develop life). Also, some Earth-like planets and worlds that could have water on their surface were also spotted by Kepler.
Kepler Space Telescope, The Famous Exoplanet Hunter, Sent The Last Set of Data To Earth, And Then It Went Dark
During the past year, Kepler also found a planet similar to our world, a Super-Earth, and an exoplanet just like Saturn, which orbits a star like the Sun, among other distant planets it spotted.
Every mission has its end, and every space telescope has its successor. That also applies to Kepler Space Telescope which received its replacement – TESS. TESS launched in 2018 and already delivered some new, exciting findings. However, the Kepler Space Telescope sent the latest set of data to Earth to go out in style.
The so-called “Last Light” image (see below), the new data sent back home by Kepler, depicts the stars in the direction of Aquarius constellation, including the TRAPPIST-1 system, the most intriguing exoplanetary system Kepler discovered. It consists of seven planets, a few of which might have water. Also, in the photo, we can see the GJ 9827 system where a very bright star is hosting three planets and which would be one of the targets of TESS.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.