These days, NASA made a shocking announcement. It looks like the Kepler Space Telescope will soon run out of fuel and this means that its life is almost over. The space agency declared that they want to save whatever fuel remains, so past Monday they put the spacecraft into a hibernation safe mode. Also, they don’t mention anything about further plans to reactivate the Kepler next month.
The Space Telescope was launched by NASA in 2009. Researchers wanted to find out as much information as possible about the planets from our galaxy. Although the spacecraft is located 94 million miles away from Earth and only managed to scan a small section of our galactic surrounding, so far it did an amazing job.
Thanks to it, many exoplanets or planets located outside our solar system were spotted and identified. According to NASA’s statistics, 2,650 planets were confirmed as a result of Kepler’s observations. In addition, every discovery contributed to learning more about the planets’ way of birth, their types and other useful information.
Of course, the work is not done, because other mysteries from outer space are still waiting to be discovered. For that matter, NASA was planning to turn Kepler back on in early August, but at this point they are not sure if the remained fuel is enough for reactivation.
If they will be able to perform the transfer, the space agency intends to start the 19th campaign for observing the galaxy. This is a part of Kepler’s “K2” mission started in 2014. During the operation they need to point the antenna towards the Earth. This is an extremely fuel-consuming process, so while it is conducted, Kepler could run out of fuel at any time.
Of course, researchers had this coming; they expected Kepler to run out of fuel one day. Once the second mission, KA2, started, they were hoping to at least get 10 observation campaigns before the tank dries out. Now, their priority is to use the remaining fuel for getting the data back to Earth.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.