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2018-10-30. NASA Retires Kepler Space Telescope, Passes Planet-Hunting Torch.

posted Nov 1, 2018, 3:10 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Nov 19, 2018, 12:55 PM ]

NASA RELEASE 18-092. [https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-retires-kepler-space-telescope-passes-planet-hunting-torch] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 8. Excerpt: After nine years in deep space collecting data that indicate our sky to be filled with billions of hidden planets – more planets even than stars – NASA’s Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel needed for further science operations. NASA has decided to retire the spacecraft within its current, safe orbit, away from Earth. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 planet discoveries from outside our solar system, many of which could be promising places for life. "As NASA's first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. ...The most recent analysis of Kepler’s discoveries concludes that 20 to 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky are likely to have small, possibly rocky, planets similar in size to Earth, and located within the habitable zone of their parent stars. ...most common size of planet Kepler found doesn’t exist in our solar system – a world between the size of Earth and Neptune – and we have much to learn about these planets.  ...Four years into the mission, after the primary mission objectives had been met, mechanical failures temporarily halted observations. The mission team was able to devise a fix, switching the spacecraft’s field of view roughly every three months. This enabled an extended mission for the spacecraft, dubbed K2, which lasted as long as the first mission and bumped Kepler's count of surveyed stars up to more than 500,000. ..."We know the spacecraft's retirement isn't the end of Kepler's discoveries," said Jessie Dotson, Kepler's project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley. "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."... See also New York Times Kepler, the Little NASA Spacecraft That Could, No Longer CanKepler Telescope Dead After Finding Thousands of Worlds, and Science Magazine article Kepler, NASA’s planet-hunting space telescope, is dead Nov 16 -NASA Exoplanet News: Kepler Space Telescope Bid ‘Goodnight’ With Final Set of Commands.