Tuesday, March 20, 2018

NASA Kepler Spacecraft Is About to Run Out of Fuel

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


 According to a new statement released by NASA engineers, NASA's prolific Kepler space telescope is nearing the end of its life. After finding over 2,300 confirmed planets across two missions, Kepler is low on fuel and will run out within several months.
 "Our current estimates are that Kepler's tank will run dry within several months — but we've been surprised by its performance before! So, while we anticipate flight operations ending soon, we are prepared to continue as long as the fuel allows," Charlie Sobeck, system engineer for the Kepler mission, said in a NASA statement.
 "The Kepler team is planning to collect as much science data as possible in its remaining time and beam it back to Earth before the loss of the fuel-powered thrusters means that we can't aim the spacecraft for data transfer," he added. "We even have plans to take some final calibration data with the last bit of fuel, if the opportunity presents itself."
 Kepler launched in 2009 in the search for planets beyond our solar system. For four years, it watched the face of stars for the telltale signs of dimming, hinting at an exoplanet crossing its parent star. Yet in 2013, three of of Kepler's four gyroscopes (its 'wheels') failed. Instead, the spacecraft relied on an intuitive solution of using the pressure of the solar wind to maintain its position, extending its mission for a few more years.

Read more about this fascinating story at: https://www.space.com/40008-kepler-planet-hunter-running-out-of-fuel.html

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