Planet Stalking Kepler Space Telescope Meets Its End

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Before the mission, our knowledge of planets outside our solar system that orbit a star was woefully lacking.

"Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars", he added.

Called the transit method, Kepler would be able to spot an exoplanet if it saw a star momentarily dim, signifying a celestial body had crossed in front of the star.

Since it was launched in 2009, Kepler has aided astronomers around the world in the hunt for planets outside of the solar system similar to Earth and orbiting other stars.

One such planet, Kepler-186f, is very much like Earth.

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Originally created to look for Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of stars like the sun, Kepler instead found a rich diversity of planets around many different types of stars. "It was an extremely clever approach to doing this kind of science", says director for astronomy and physics at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Leslie Livesay. Four years into the mission, osbervations were halted by mechanical failures.

With the data collected by Kepler during its nine-year lifespan allowed scientists to visualize a more complete picture of worlds beyond our own. Kepler's readings have helped scientists study in depth the history of our Milky Way galaxy and the early stages of supernovae.

NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. However, all of Kepler's data has been and will continue to be publicly available at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) where it will continue to improve our understanding of the universe. But after that scientists have found their way to keep it in operational mode but now as telescope has run out of fuel, the telescope has now retired from the mission.

"I'm excited about the diverse discoveries that are yet to come from our data and how future missions will build upon Kepler's results".

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