Kepler spacecraft, almost out of fuel, suspends exoplanet search

Federico Mansilla
Julio 11, 2018

Kepler is the space observatory NASA launched back in 2009 as part of its hunt for Earth-like planets.

"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. The mission team received a message about it. Kepler is configured to revival in August, for project Deep Space Network.

Almost out of fuel after nine years of trail-blazing searches for exoplanets, NASA's' Kepler satellite has been put in a state of electronic hibernation in preparation for downloading stored data from its latest observation campaign.

NASA has announced that its Kepler team has put the spacecraft into a state similar to hibernation.

Now the telescope will not hold any scientific observation - he'll have to wait until August 2 when, according to the plan, will transfer the data collected in the last 51 days.

The ultra-sensitive CCD sensors making up the Kepler Space Telescope's camera are created to look for the slight dimming of a star's brightness that might indicate a planet passing in front as viewed from Earth.

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

Data from this second recording could provide researchers with the opportunity to both get more data on the previous exoplanet finds as well as discover new ones.

NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley manages the Kepler mission and follow-up K2 mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered a world where two suns set over the horizon instead of just one.

NASA says that the fuel is running very low and it is likely to run out in a few months at best. And if after that the fuel remains into it, it will begin its 19 observation campaign. 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.

The Kepler space telescope, which is now 94 million miles away from Earth, has survived many potential knock-outs during its nine years in flight, from mechanical failures to being blasted by cosmic rays. The mission has already completed 17 campaigns, and since May 12, Kepler has been on its 18th observation campaign.

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