Kepler telescope is going out of fuel: The legendary exoplanet hunter
The main weapon of scientists in the “hunt” for exoplanets is the Kepler orbital telescope, which has worked without fail for more than nine years. It was launched in 2009, and the mission was originally designed for 3.5 years.
During the main mission, the device found more than 4,496 entities for exoplanets, of which 2342 have been confirmed so far, of which 30 are comparable in size to the Earth and are in the “habitat.” But now it became known that the days of “Kepler” are limited. The other day the NASA aerospace agency said that the telescope is running out of fuel and soon it will go into the sunset, and the mission will be completed. And although this news did not become a big surprise, it’s still sad to realize that Kepler is everything.
Since Kepler is in orbit around the Sun (this is the only way it could accomplish its “hunt”), there is no way to refuel the device. Yes, the equipment of the device includes solar batteries, but all energy received with their help goes to ensuring the work of electronics. The fuel is used for the work of engines, which correct the orientation of the telescope in space.
The mission team does not say when exactly Kepler will run out of fuel, limited to approximate estimates of “several months.” Before this day, scientists hope to collect a maximum of data, since after the emptying of the tanks the communication will be lost, and also calibrate the instruments of the instrument.
An interesting fact – it was originally planned that the Kepler’s tanks would not be filled and the fuel would last for a maximum of six years. But before the launch, the engineers again weighed the apparatus and found that the weight was below the threshold value, filled the vehicle with full fuel tanks. Thanks to this that it could work so long. Instead of the planned 10 monitoring campaigns, Kepler performed 16 and this month began the 17th.
But do not get upset at all. After just one month, NASA will send a successor to space – the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), which will continue to “hunt”. It will be launched on April 16 from Cape Canaveral and guess which rocket will be used to launch it. That’s right, Falcon 9.
Like Kepler, TESS will look for the planets in transit, tracking changes in the brightness of the light emitted by the star as it passes the planet, but will be aimed at objects not further than 300 light years away (Kepler studied stars within 3,000 light years). Scientists expect to find with the help of TESS several thousand exoplanets of circumterrestrial sizes with a period up to 2 months. Well, TESS, of course, has a better technology, but Kepler will always be remembered.