Monday, November 5, 2018

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope Runs Out of Fuel

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


  NASA officials announced on October 30 that the Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel and will be decommissioned in the coming weeks. This marks a lasting legacy that is responsible for 70 percent of the roughly 3,800 confirmed exoplanets discoveries to date.
  Unlike NASA's Cassini spacecraft which was deorbited into Saturn's thick atmosphere in September 2017, Kepler will receive a much simpler end. Team members will beam a single, simple command to the spacecraft, triggering a decommissioning sequence. This will shut down its radio transmitter and onboard fault-protection systems, converting the telescope into an inert chunk of floating metal.
   "Kepler is currently trailing the Earth by about 94 million miles, and will remain the same distance from the Earth for the foreseeable future," Charlie Sobeck, project system engineer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, said during a teleconference with reporters.
  Kepler was launched back in March 2009, with its mission to determine the frequency of Earth-like plants around the Milky Way galaxy. Its first mission was initially composed of observing close to 150,000 stars simultaneously. Eventually this mission ended in May 2013 when the spacecraft lost the second its four orientation-maintainng reaction wheels. However after some remote modifications, a new mission was launched in 2014 as K2. that hauled in an additional 34 exoplanet finds.

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