NASA Puts its Planet Exploring Spacecraft Kepler to Sleep Mode

Postado Julho 11, 2018

Many space agencies around the world, especially NASA and ESA, launched so-called "exoplanets hunters", some very powerful space telescopes that can locate and study these distant worlds.

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. The mission team has been closely monitoring the spacecraft for signs of low fuel, and expects it to run out of fuel in the next few months.

NASA experts have suspended the work of the Kepler telescope, to save fuel and time in August to submit the data to Earth. On August 2nd, the team will command the spacecraft to awaken from its no-fuel-use state and maneuver the spacecraft to the correct orientation and downlink the data.

NASA in a report said that once all the data is downloaded, Kepler will be switched on again to continue its observations till it eventually runs out of fuel.

Launched in 2009 with an objective to learn more about the number and frequency of planets in our galaxy, the telescope which is some 94 million miles away from Earth has continuously monitored over 150,000 stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region and has discovered over 4,600 planet candidates as per the data provided by NASA. What makes Tatooine one of the most freakish exoplanets ever found is that it is orbiting two host stars which make it be a circumbinary planet.

Since May 12, Kepler has been on its 18th observation campaign, staring at a patch of sky towards the constellation of Cancer it previously studied in 2015. Returning these data back to Earth is the highest priority for the remaining fuel of the spacecraft.

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Kepler suffered a mechanical malfunction with its steering system in 2013, forcing scientists to develop a clever alternate plan in which they used pressure from the sun's rays to act as a stand-in for one of its failed reaction wheels. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. The decision to put Kepler into the hibernation-like state was due to a recent "indication" that it is "very low" on fuel. This is a part of Kepler's "K2" mission started in 2014. And if after that the fuel remains into it, it will begin its 19 observation campaign.

Kepler's "replacement" is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which has a lofty goal of finding 20,000 new exoplanets. The spacecraft, launched in April, is created to find Earth-sized planets that orbit within the "habitable zone" of stars.