NASA retires Kepler space telescope

NASA has retired Kepler space telescope after it ran out of fuel needed for further science operations. This brings end of nine-and-a-half year mission of Kepler space telescope in which it had discovered over 2,600 intriguing exoplanets from outside our solar system some of which may harbour life.

Kepler space telescope

The unmanned space telescope was launched in 2009 on 3.5-year mission (from 2009 until November 2012), but operated for 9 years. It was NASA’s first planet-hunting mission. It was named after German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler. During its over nine years life, Kepler had observed 530,506 stars and detected 2,662 planets. It used transit photometry detection method for searching for exoplanet, which looked for periodic, repetitive dips in visible light of stars caused by planets passing or transiting in front in front of its host star. The telescope had suffered mechanical failure in 2013. But it was made functional by changing its field of view periodically. This had paved way for K2 mission.

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