Social Media Sidebar

Announcement

Please sign up, comment on articles and bring your friends!

Current poll

PlanetTech is asking:

What do you think about our new web site?

Love it, indeed
Really good solution
Same as old one
The old one was better
This is a new option

Quote of the day

Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.

 

Thomas Edison

The End Is Nigh for NASA's Planet-Hunting Kepler Space Telescope

RATE THIS! +8
Posted in Science on 9th Jul, 2018 02:42 PM by Alex Muller

The end is near for the most prolific planet hunter of all time. NASA's iconic Kepler space telescope, which has discovered 70 percent of the 3,750 exoplanets known to date, is running so low on fuel that the agency has put it into a hibernation-like state, agency officials announced.

 

NASA made the move in an attempt to ensure that Kepler has enough fuel left to beam its latest data haul to its handlers early next month. [Kepler's 7 Greatest Exoplanet Discoveries (So Far)]

 

"To bring the data home, the spacecraft must point its large antenna back to Earth and transmit the data during its allotted Deep Space Network time, which is scheduled in early August," NASA officials wrote in a statement today. (The Deep Space Network is the global array of radio telescopes that NASA uses to communicate with its far-flung spacecraft.)

 

"Until then, the spacecraft will remain stable and parked in a no-fuel-use safe mode," they added. "On Aug. 2, the team will command the spacecraft to awaken from its no-fuel-use state and maneuver the spacecraft to the correct orientation and downlink the data."

 

The $600 million Kepler mission launched in March 2009, with the goal of helping astronomers determine just how common Earth-like planets are throughout the Milky Way galaxy. The spacecraft finds alien worlds via the "transit method," noticing the tiny brightness dips caused when orbiting planets cross a star's face from Kepler's perspective.

 

Kepler has been tremendously successful by any measure. For example, in addition to its impressive raw planet tally (which will go up significantly; scientists are still vetting more than 2,000 planet candidates detected by Kepler), the spacecraft's observations suggest that about 20 percent of sunlike stars host a roughly Earth-size planet in the habitable zone — that just-right range of distances where liquid water could exist on a world's surface.

 

During its primary mission, Kepler stared at about 150,000 stars simultaneously, hunting for promising transits. That work ran through May 2013, when the second of the spacecraft's four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed. Engineers figured out a way to stabilize Kepler using sunlight pressure, however, and in 2014, the spacecraft embarked on an extended mission known as K2.

 

Kepler continues to search for exoplanets during K2, but it's studying a variety of other celestial objects and phenomena as well. Kepler is doing this extended-mission work during roughly 80-day "campaigns," each of which has a slightly different focus.

 

Kepler has completed 18 K2 campaigns to date. If enough fuel remains after the Aug. 2 phone call home, campaign 19 will begin on Aug. 6, NASA officials said.

 

The fuel situation doesn't come as a big surprise; NASA announced in March that Kepler was running low and would likely have to cease operations in a matter of months. Refueling the spacecraft is not an option; Kepler orbits the sun, not Earth, and it's currently millions of miles from our planet.


Tags: spaceNASAKeplertelescopeplanetastronomyexoplanet

Read original article » Back to category

Comments



 

Recent headlines

  • Posted in Software on 2018-10-19 11:09:41
    Idx raises $33 million for AI that detects eye disease.....read more
    Posted in Software on 2018-10-19 11:07:05
    University of Florida’s AI finds early lung cancer with.....read more
    Posted in Science on 2018-10-19 11:02:34
    Lunar landscape testing ground to be built in Germany..read more
    Posted in Hardware on 2018-10-18 18:16:43
    Swedish company Ovzon is the fourth client for SpaceX.....read more
    Posted in Medicine on 2018-10-18 17:52:40
    Enzyme to help smokers quit by eliminating nicotine in.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-10 01:33
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Business on 2013-10-20 07:17
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Software on 2013-10-20 06:43
Pirate Bay Browser Clocks 1,000,000 Downloads..read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-10 02:10
Google reportedly investing hundreds of millions into new.....read more
Posted in Medicine on 2013-10-14 03:13
Endothelial Cells Can Repair and Regenerate Organs,.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Spacex says China is their main competitor for commercial.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Staring at Your Phone Could Be Making You Short Sighted..read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Oculus Rift virtual reality headset coming to mobile, but.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
China is working towards a manned lunar mission in about.....read more
Posted in Science on 01.01.2010
Delivering drugs via nanoparticles to target mitochondria..read more

Recent Blog Posts

  • Posted by AlexMuller
    Even light drinking increases risk of death..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Researchers have discovered how to slow aging..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Human retinas grown in a dish explain how color vision develops..read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    The smartphone app that can tell you’re depressed before you.....read more
    Posted by AlexMuller
    Neural networks don’t understand what optical illusions are..read more

Login to your Account

Login to your PlanetTech Account here

Username:
Password:
Remember me
or

Create a New Account

You just need username and password

The following errors occured:
Username:
Email:
Password:
Verify password:
Remember me