The space telescope Kepler has completed its work

NASA  Ames  Wendy Stenzel

As an astronomical passing of the baton, in the last month of Kepler's mission, both TESS and Kepler simultaneously observed over a hundred of the same stars. The new mission was dubbed K2. Since the beginning of this year, on the other hand, it has operated with little fuel and had been turned off several times to reserve the remaining combustible for certain special tasks. As a result, NASA chose to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit away from Earth.

NASA has now retired Kepler space telescope as it has run out of fuels after a decade-long mission in which it detected about thousands of planets that are existed beyond our solar systems.

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"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.

With Kepler retiring after an illustrious planet-hunting career, a new telescope will take its place. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 exoplanet discoveries. Kepler also found nature often produces jam-packed planetary systems, in some cases with so many planets orbiting close to their parent stars that our own inner solar system looks sparse by comparison.

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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.

A recent analysis of Kepler's discoveries suggested that 20 to 50 per cent of the stars visible in the night sky were likely to have small, possibly rocky, planets similar in size to Earth, and located within the habitable zone of their parent stars, which means they're located at distances from their parent stars where liquid water, a vital ingredient to life as we know it, might pool on the planet surface.

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Kepler was originally positioned to watch 150,000 stars in a patch of sky within the constellation Cygnus. The spacecraft continued to work past the limit researchers estimated but when it reached four years there was a mechanical problem that stopped it from running temporarily. However, the spacecraft was repurposed and saved by changing its field of view periodically. This will allow scientists to make new discoveries even if Kepler's mission has officially ended. While spacecraft operations have ceased, its data will continue to be publicly available through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

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