NASA Retires Kepler Space Telescope

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"As NASA's first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

"We have shown that there are more planets than stars in our galaxy", Borucki said.

NASA has retired its Kepler space telescope, which discovered more than 2,600 planets outside our solar system during its nine-year lifespan.

"Around every star in the galaxy, we're confident now that there's probably at least one planet - so more planets than stars without a doubt and that's something that Kepler has shown us", he said.

During its nine-year mission, Kepler found more than 2,600 planets orbiting stars outside the solar system -including many with the potential for harboring life.

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"Before we launched Kepler, we didn't know if planets were common or rare in our galaxy", he said. Those systems range from Kepler-233, whose parent star may be merely 5 million to 10 million years old, to Kepler-444, whose planets may be more than twice Earth's 4.5 billion-year age.

NASA's venerable Kepler space telescope, which discovered almost 2,700 exoplanets in distant star systems, has officially been retired after finally running out of fuel, the space agency wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

The Kepler Space Telescope gave us mere earthlings an incredable view of the universe we reside in, with images of planetary systems thousands of light years agway.

Kepler was able to detect light from stars, but NASA is also studying plans for space observatories that are capable of detecting light from planets.

The spacecraft will be retired within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth, according to NASA.

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Six months after announcing the spacecraft's fuel stores were beginning to deplete, NASA announced Keplar's day had finally come on Wednesday.

As of today, Kepler has detected 2,681 confirmed planets, plus 2,899 other candidates yet to be confirmed, said Kepler project scientist Jessie Dotson. Like Kepler, TESS looks for very small, periodic dips in brightness of stars caused when planets pass in front of, or transit, those stars. The most recent analysis of Kepler's discoveries concludes that 20 to 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky are likely to have small, possibly rocky, planets similar in size to Earth, and located within the habitable zone of their parent stars.

A replacement: Several exoplanet-hunting missions are in the works, including the James Webb Space Telescope, now due to launch in 2021 after a series of delays.

The next-generation planet hunter space telescope for Nasa, TESS, launched in April and will survey far more cosmic terrain than Kepler. It began science operations in late July, as Kepler was waning, and is looking for planets orbiting 200,000 of the brightest nearby stars to Earth. "There were definitely challenges, but Kepler had an extremely talented team of scientists and engineers who overcame them".

Ms Dotson said commented: "Kepler's exoplanet legacy is absolutely blockbuster".

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There was a lot of malfunction that happened with steering and dwindling hydrazine fuel levels costing $600 million spacecraft which stayed in action nearly for nine years and with 19 observation campaigns which are longer than its original four-year mission.