Kepler Retires, Passes Planet-Hunting Torch

Find out the latest thinking about our universe.
User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 17663
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Kepler Retires, Passes Planet-Hunting Torch

Post by bystander » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:18 pm

NASA Retires Kepler Space Telescope, Passes Planet-Hunting Torch
NASA | JPL-Caltech | Ames Research Center | Kepler | 2018 Oct 20
After nine years in deep space collecting data that indicate our sky to be filled with billions of hidden planets - more planets even than stars - NASA's Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel needed for further science operations. NASA has decided to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 planet discoveries from outside our solar system, many of which could be promising places for life.

"As NASA's first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Not only did it show us how many planets could be out there, it sparked an entirely new and robust field of research that has taken the science community by storm. Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars."

Kepler has opened our eyes to the diversity of planets that exist in our galaxy. The most recent analysis of Kepler's discoveries concludes that 20 to 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky are likely to have small, possibly rocky, planets similar in size to Earth, and located within the habitable zone of their parent stars. 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. ...

Before retiring the spacecraft, scientists pushed Kepler to its full potential, successfully completing multiple observation campaigns and downloading valuable science data even after initial warnings of low fuel. The latest data, from Campaign 19, will complement the data from NASA's newest planet hunter, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched in April. TESS builds on Kepler's foundation with fresh batches of data in its search of planets orbiting some 200,000 of the brightest and nearest stars to the Earth, worlds that can later be explored for signs of life by missions such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor

User avatar
bystander
Apathetic Retiree
Posts: 17663
Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 2:06 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Kepler Bids ‘Goodnight’ With Final Set of Commands

Post by bystander » Sat Nov 17, 2018 1:57 am

Kepler Bids ‘Goodnight’ With Final Set of Commands
NASA | Ames Research Center | Kepler Space Telescope | 2018 Nov 16
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Reflections from NASA's Kepler Mission ~ Video Credit: NASA/Ames Research Center
On Thursday evening, NASA’s Kepler space telescope received its final set of commands to disconnect communications with Earth. The “goodnight” commands finalize the spacecraft’s transition into retirement, which began on Oct. 30 with NASA’s announcement that Kepler had run out of fuel and could no longer conduct science.

Coincidentally, Kepler’s “goodnight” coincides with the anniversary of the death of its namesake, German astronomer Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion and died 388 years ago on Nov. 15, 1630.

The final commands were sent over NASA’s Deep Space Network from Kepler’s operations center at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, or LASP, at the University of Colorado in Boulder. LASP runs the spacecraft’s operations on behalf of NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado.

Kepler’s team disabled the safety modes that could inadvertently turn systems back on, and severed communications by shutting down the transmitters. Because the spacecraft is slowly spinning, the Kepler team had to carefully time the commands so that instructions would reach the spacecraft during periods of viable communication. The team will monitor the spacecraft to ensure that the commands were successful. The spacecraft is now drifting in a safe orbit around the Sun 94 million miles away from Earth. ...
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor