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Kepler Space Telescope that was employed by US Space agency is now out of fuel and has retired after 9 and a half long years. This iconic telescope has helped to locate more than 2600 planets. Officials say that some of these planets have the possibility of holding life. This was actually an unmanned space telescope that was launched with a bang in 2009 and since then it has changed the way in which humans look at planets by its vast discoveries.
The transits or moments when planets passed in front of stars were swiftly discovered by Kepler. It was Kepler who first showed that about 20 to 50% of stars that shone in the night sky had smallish rock filled planets that were roughly earth’s size and many were in the nearby zone of their respective suns….i.e. near enough to contain the possibility of life within them. The possibility of life was judged by the fact that liquid water (considering the assumption that water is necessary for life) collects on the planet surface and the environment permits it.
Scientists have been expecting the demise of Kepler for a long time and this is actually the end of an era of spacecraft operations. The NASA Astrophysics division director Paul Hertz has a conference call with reporters where he said that he was expecting the demise. signals that the fuel was about to finish were received about 2 weeks ago. Scientists were able to procure all the information from Kepler down to Earth before all the fuel ran dry. NASA has released a statement that the spacecraft will be retired within its current orbit that’s safe and away from the earth. Bill Borucki described the Kepler mission that was conducted by NASA’s retired main investigator as a stupendous success. We have successfully showed that there are far more planets than stars in the universe said Borucki.
Incidentally NASA has experiences a lot of spacecraft issues in the recent past. The opportunity rover of NASA is kept on the surface of NASA and that followed a big dust storm that struck in the end of May and June. The asteroid hopping sawn mission ran out of fuel in the past month. The Hubble space telescope and the Observatory Chandra X Ray had experienced severe technical issues in the past month. However these issues were tackled well in due time.
Kepler’s mission is over according to NASA and its discoveries will be examined for many years in future. TESS was launched this April and it’s a next generation space planet hunter that’s for seed to hunt across more extensive cosmic terrain in comparison to Kepler. Both TESS and KEPLER use similar systems of detecting the transitions o planets and their shadows as they pass all across their stars. The new generation spacecraft will also check out exoplanets that are in the range of 30 to 300 light years far. Kepler had affirmed that 2681 planets existed on the solar system but most of them were very dim and couldn’t be examined properly.
The James Webb space telescope is scheduled in 2021 and will reveal a lot about the mass and density of the planets and the composition of their atmosphere…all of which will say a lot about the chances of their habitability. Hertz said that Kepler has changed how the universe is viewed by the world. Future study of exoplanets is now a lucrative proposition!!
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