The US space agency's Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel and is being retired after nine and a half years, having helped discover more than 2,600 planets, some of which may hold life, officials said Tuesday. That kept things going for another five years, but Kepler's work is now complete. It had installed the largest digital camera for space observations with which t was able to collect data about the Milky Way, supernova, the behavior of planets and stars that are orbiting around the planets outside the solar system.
The founder of the Kepler mission, William Borucki, recalled that when this idea was conceived 35 years ago, humanity "did not know of a single planet" outside the solar system. As an astronomical passing of the baton, in the last month of Kepler's mission, both TESS and Kepler simultaneously observed over a hundred of the same stars. To date, Kepler has discovered a total of 2,818 exoplanets and another 2,679 candidates waiting for further explorations.
"Being the first NASA mission specifically created to search for exoplanets, Kepler has exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for further research and the search for life in the Solar system and beyond". In addition to the Kepler data, the archive also offers community-provided data sets for further scientific discoveries.
Kepler was originally positioned to stare at one star-studded patch of the sky in the constellation Cygnus. "Many are still hiding in the data, ready to be discovered", said Susan Mullally, a scientist working on the Kepler mission at STScI.
"The Kepler mission was based on a very innovative design".
But the mission was not without its hiccups - in 2013, mechanical failures stopped Kepler's observations.
Thanks to Kepler, the study of exoplanets has seen a remarkable boost in the past decade. NASA has chose to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development.
"That means they're located at distances from their parent stars where liquid water -- a vital ingredient to life as we know it -- might pool on the planet surface".
In mid-November, a company called Rocket Lab will try to send six small satellites into orbit around Earth-a fairly banal undertaking, save for the size of the launch rocket.
A super-computer at the International Space Station aims to bring "cloud" computing to astronauts in space and speed up their ability to run data analysis in orbit, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise said Thursday.