NASA's persistent Kepler space telescope returned to sleep just a few days after the last observation campaign began, the agency…
NASA’s persistent Kepler space telescope returned to sleep just a few days after the last observation campaign began, the agency said in a statement released yesterday (October 23).
“After successful retrieval of data from the latest observation campaign, the Kepler team ordered the spacecraft to position to collect data for its next campaign,” read the NASA statement. “On Friday, October 1
9, during a regularly planned spacecraft contact with NASA’s Deep Space Network, the team learned that the spacecraft had switched to its waste without fuel.”
Engineers working at Kepler have been worried about the spacecraft’s fuel supply since spring and in recent months, the telescope has only conducted participated campaigns and then fallen asleep to ensure it has enough juice to send data back to earth.
But sleep conditions can not solve the underlying problem, which is that Kepler runs low fuel. (Earlier this month, NASA announced a second challenge for the mission that the telescope had trouble pointing to exactly.)
Despite the recent matches and the end of the upcoming mission, Kepler has been an overwhelming success and is now an iconic NASA project. When spacecraft was first launched in 2009, its mission was designed to be just one year. Instead, its mission continued until 2013, when mechanical problems prompted engineers to rearrange their mission to a follow-up campaign called K2.
Between spacecraft, spacecraft has identified more than 2,650 confirmed planets that circle stars and prove that such exoplanets are far more common than scientists had ever dreamed.
While Kepler leaves big shoes to fill, a new telescope has already begun to take over his job in search of foreign planets. The mission, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS, was launched in April and has already identified two candidate plans – what researchers say may be 10,000 in the first two years.