As announced by NASA on Friday 6th July, the famous Kepler Space Telescope has almost run out of its fuel. This implies that the Kepler would soon meet its end. According to the United States space agency, the telescope has entered into a state of hibernation to conserve the remaining fuel for its last activity.
NASA said that the Kepler would return to the active state early in August. The spacecraft would then focus its antenna on the Earth for the space agency to download all the information it has collected during its latest study of the space. However, NASA is yet not clear whether Kepler has enough fuel for carrying out that transfer. The task of focusing the antenna of the spacecraft on the Earth is a fuel-intensive activity and at any time, the tank of the spacecraft could run dry.
The officials of NASA stated, “To bring the data home, the spacecraft must point its large antenna back to Earth and transmit the data during its allotted Deep Space Network time, which is scheduled in early August.” Further, they added, “Until then, the spacecraft will remain stable and parked in a no-fuel-use safe mode. On Aug. 2, 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.”
The space agency launched the Kepler Space Telescope in the year 2009 in order to understand clearly the frequency and the number of planetary bodies in our Milky Way galaxy. Until today the NASA scientists have discovered lots of exoplanets with the help of Kepler. The spacecraft is positioned at near about ninety-four million miles ahead of our Earth. It has only scanned a small part of the neighborhood of our galaxy and has led the astronomers to find around twenty-six hundred fifty confirmed planets till date.
The US space agency already has launched the successor of Kepler, which is known as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The TESS was launched earlier in the current year on a SpaceX Falcon9. The range of view of the TESS is around four hundred times larger in comparison to that of the Kepler.