Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

NASA’s Kepler Telescope has alarmingly low fuel, goes to sleep

NASA’s Kepler Telescope has alarmingly low fuel, goes to sleep

Kepler is the space observatory NASA launched back in 2009 as part of its hunt for Earth-like planets.

Kepler-16b, dubbed as Tatooine in respect for the Luke Skywalker's home planet in the Star Wars movies, is a dead gaseous exoplanet that can't host life. So far, it has provided data that scientists have used to confirm the existence of 2,650 exoplanets in a field of over 150,000 stars that it's examining.

NASA revealed on Saturday, July 7, that the Kepler Space Telescope is nearly out of fuel and that the space agency chose to put the spacecraft in hibernation-like state.

Thanks to it, many exoplanets or planets located outside our solar system were spotted and identified. This is the first star system found to have multiple transiting planets.

Kepler's antenna must be pointed toward Earth to get the most recent observations back. The fuel is needed for pointing the telescope.

Kepler managed to collect data from the constellation of Cancer.

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As per NASA, the spaceship will be into its hibernation mode until August, and will use the Deep Space Network of NASA to send the data gathered during campaign back to Earth.

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered a world where two suns set over the horizon instead of just one.

NASA plans to provide an update on Kepler's status following the scheduled data download. The agency has been monitoring the Kepler spacecraft closely for signs of low fuel, and expects it to run out of fuel in the next few months. The team will begin its 19th observation campaign on August 6 after completing the download.

NASA said that the Kepler team was notified that the fuel tank of Kepler is running very low. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched in April 2018, and produced a test image in May. As the spaceship is in deep space region and is around 94M milers away from the orbit of earth, and there is no possibility that it will hit any life-bearing planet like icy moon, NASA is allowed to keep in the spaceship in working condition until it gives up. TESS has been selected by NASA as an Astrophysics Explorer mission.

Kepler continues to search for exoplanets during K2, but it's studying a variety of other celestial objects and phenomena as well. From the data, the size and distance of the planet can be calculated along with if the planet's character temperatures that can determine if it's habitable.

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