NASA has given up on efforts to save its $600 million Kepler Space Telescope, which has been used to search for signs of alien life.
The news comes after months of testing after a second wheel aboard the telescope failed in May. The wheel was used to point the telescope toward the sun.
“Kepler has made extraordinary discoveries in finding exoplanets including several super-Earths in the habitable zone,” John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said. “Knowing that Kepler has successfully collected all the data from its prime mission, I am confident that more amazing discoveries are on the horizon.”
According to NASA, efforts will now focus on researching data the telescope collected throughout its life.
Launched in 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission able to find Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone. Kepler has discovered thousands of such planets since its launch.
“At the beginning of our mission, no one knew if Earth-size planets were abundant in the galaxy,” William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said. “If they were rare, we might be alone. Now at the completion of Kepler observations, the data holds the answer to the question that inspired the mission: Are Earths in the habitable zone of stars like our sun common or rare?”
NASA plans to launch a second exoplanet hunting mission in 2017. The James Webb Space Telescope will also help with this endeavor.
- Nasa abandons hope of fixing Kepler (telegraph.co.uk)
- NASA gives up fixing planet-hunting telescope (sfgate.com)
- NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope Ends Mission After Researchers Deem Craft Beyond Repair (hngn.com)
- NASA Abandons Space Scope (foxnews.com)
- NASA gives up fixing planet-hunting telescope (bostonherald.com)