Unwilling to go quietly into that good night, the Kepler Space Telescope is once again gathering scientific data — despite a malfunctioning thruster and painfully low levels of fuel.
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NASA's storied Kepler Space Telescope — the craft which has discovered thousands of exoplanets since its launch in 2009 — is entering the retirement phase of its lifespan. NASA announced on Friday that Kepler staff had "received an indication that the spacecraft fuel tank is running very low" and "placed the spacecraft in a hibernation-like state in preparation to download the science data collected in its latest observation campaign."
There are eight planets in our Solar System (sorry Pluto), but collectively, these planets host over 175 moons, one or two of which may even harbour life. Indeed, our galaxy, based on what we observe here, could be bursting with exomoons, a significant number of which may be capable of fostering life, according to new a new study.
Supernovae produce some of the most powerful explosions in the cosmos, expelling a doomed star's contents at velocities reaching 10 per cent the speed of light. It usually takes a few weeks or months for a supernova to fade into nothingness, but astronomers have now documented a record-setting case in which a star was extinguished in just a few days.
The space-based telescope responsible for detecting 2245 exoplanets, and another 2342 yet to be confirmed, is running out of fuel and may have just a few months left before its lights go out. The Kepler spacecraft will go down in history as one of the greatest astronomical tools ever used to scan the heavens.
Kepler is the gift that keeps on giving. After suffering a major malfunction five years ago, the rejiggered space-based telescope continues to churn away, scanning the heavens for signs of distant worlds. An international team of astronomers has now released the results of its latest survey, confirming the existence of nearly 100 new exoplanets.
After creating a minor panic when it went into Emergency Mode two weeks ago, the Kepler Space Telescope is back to doing science. As of 1:30am AEST (11:30am ET) today, it's continuing the search for planets beyond our solar system.