Kepler Telescope almost out of fuel, goes in to hibernation

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 11, 2018

The spacecraft has now finally run out of fuel and the space agency has put it on hibernation mode to download all the data from its drives. As per NASA, the original Kepler mission found 2,244 exoplanets candidates and 2,327 exoplanets were confirmed, the extended K2 mission has successfully identified 479 candidates and out of which 323 were confirmed. The space telescope while proving to be an invaluable tool for gathering data from across the universe, suffered a mechanical malfunction to its systems in 2013, and was unable to steer effectively.

This far-distant world is so fabulous and, because it's close to its host star, it's evaporating very fast that forced scientists come up with a new classification for exoplanets, namely, the chthonian planets.

Transmitting back these data requires the spacecraft to point its large antenna back to Earth during the allotted Deep Space Network time set in early August. Returning these data back to Earth is the highest priority for the remaining fuel of the spacecraft.

Since May 12, Kepler has been on its 18th observation campaign, staring at a patch of sky towards the constellation of Cancer it previously studied in 2015.

Don't miss out on the latest news and information. The hibernation-like mode will conserve fuel in preparation for this download period, after which point NASA plans to send Kepler off to make more observations. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development.

NASA plans to provide an update on Kepler's status following the scheduled data download. If all goes well with the download of the 18th observation campaign, Kepler will begin its 19th observation campaign on August 6 with the remaining fuel. TESS is a massive upgrade, observing nearly 400 times the region of space as Kepler, or about 85% of what's observable from its orbit relative to Earth. The agency has been monitoring the Kepler spacecraft closely for signs of low fuel, and expects it to run out of fuel in the next few months.

NASA has already launched Kepler's successor, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, which will also hunt for exoplanets. Refueling the spacecraft is not an option; Kepler orbits the sun, not Earth, and it's now millions of miles from our planet. TESS has been selected by NASA as an Astrophysics Explorer mission. This is a part of Kepler's "K2" mission started in 2014. From the data, the size and distance of the planet can be calculated along with if the planet's character temperatures that can determine if it's habitable.

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