Because right now, all Kepler does is reposition itself to take photographs of distant pockets of space while it moves at a distance of 94 million miles away from Earth, and once the fuel tanks are empty, that's the end of that.
Launched back in 2009, the Kepler spacecraft/telescope was created to search for Earth-like exoplanets orbiting around distant stars. That left the space telescope unable to hold its gaze steady. On Wednesday NASA looked back on the possible failure the telescope narrowly avoided in 2013, in which a second reaction wheel broke and skewed it away from the direction it was meant to view.
Our current estimates are that Kepler's tank will run dry within several months - but we've been surprised by its performance before!
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NASA engineers, however, gave him a second life (known as the K2 mission), as they used the pressure of solar radiation to maintain its course, such as a kayak moving with the stream of the stream. There are still 2,342 exoplanets that need to be confirmed and astronomers are vigorously working on the same. To achieve this, the space observatory - which uses the method of detection of transits - will observe the whole sky focusing on the brightest stars, on average 30 to 100 times more than those observed by the Kepler space telescope.
But NASA will continue operating Kepler for as long as they can, with the hope that they can record any eleventh-hour exoplanet discoveries.
'So while we anticipate flight operations ending soon, we are prepared to continue as long as the fuel allows, ' he added. The mission has already completed 16 campaigns, and this month entered its 17.
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But there are fewer risks with Kepler - mostly because it's so far off into space, Sobeck said.
'Who know what surprises about our universe will be in that final downlink to earth?'
Meanwhile, the next USA "hunter" of exoplanets, the Transition Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 16th. It seems that the time has arrived to say goodbye to the Kepler, one of the NASA's greatest astronomical tools which enabled scientists to find out the unseen exoplanets.
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