Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Kepler Space Telescope Is Preparing For Its Last Trip In Space

Kepler Space Telescope Is Preparing For Its Last Trip In Space

Once the data is downloaded, the team expects to begin a new observation campaign with the spacecraft's remaining fuel. Yet it works, and allows Kepler to observe patches of space for roughly 83 days at a time. Having said that, NASA has made it clear that returning data back to Earth is the highest priority for the remaining fuel.

The report explains that Kepler must turn its large antenna toward Earth and wait for the allotted Deep Space Network time to transmit the data. If they successfully retrieve the data, the Kepler staff will start a 19th observation campaign with the last remaining fuel. "Given that most stars in our galaxy are part of a binary system, this means the opportunities for life are much broader than if planets form only around single stars", explained William Borucki from the Kepler Space Telescope science team. 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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NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley manages the Kepler mission and follow-up K2 mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

Kepler continues to search for exoplanets during K2, but it's studying a variety of other celestial objects and phenomena as well.

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Kepler's "replacement" is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which has a lofty goal of finding 20,000 new exoplanets. That work ran through May 2013, when the second of the spacecraft's four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed. "In 2014, after getting a "'new lease on life", NASA gave the spacecraft a new mission, dubbed "K2.'This required the spacecraft to shift its orientation every three months to get a new view of the sky. Also, in 2014, Kepler found an exoplanet 1,400 lightyears away that shares numerous same characteristics as our planet.

This artist's concept illustrates the two Saturn-sized planets discovered by NASA's Kepler mission on August 24, 2010. This planet orbits around a star located between the Cygnus and Lyra constellations at 600 light years away from us, which is 25% less shiny than our Sun. This planet reminded experts of the "double-sunset" pictured on Luke Skywalker's home planet Tatooine in "Star Wars: A New Hope". In 2016, Kepler spotted what is called the "Trappist-1" star system. Scientists say the Earth-like planets are in such good condition that life may have already evolved on them.

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