Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

NASA Readies to Extract Data as Kepler Runs 'Very Low' on Fuel

NASA Readies to Extract Data as Kepler Runs 'Very Low' on Fuel

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.

NASA revealed on Saturday, July 7, that the Kepler Space Telescope is nearly out of fuel and that the space agency chose to put the spacecraft in hibernation-like state.

The ultra-sensitive CCD sensors making up the Kepler Space Telescope's camera are created to look for the slight dimming of a star's brightness that might indicate a planet passing in front as viewed from Earth.

This far-distant world is so fabulous and, because it's close to its host star, it's evaporating very fast that forced scientists come up with a new classification for exoplanets, namely, the chthonian planets.

For now, Kepler's team is concentrating on the downloading of data gathered during the spacecraft's most recent observation. The fuel is needed for pointing the telescope. "In our case, there is no next station, so we want to stop collecting data while we're still comfortable that we can aim the spacecraft to bring it back to Earth", the space agency added.

Since May 12th, Kepler has been on its 18 observation campaign, staring at a patch of sky towards the constellation of Cancer it previously studied in 2015. Astronomers hope that this information will provide the opportunity to confirm the existence of new exoplanets.

NASA made the move in an attempt to ensure that Kepler has enough fuel left to beam its latest data haul to its handlers early next month. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. NASA mission scientists figured out a clever workaround, in which they used pressure from the Sun to provide additional positioning assistance. If that is successful, they plan to start a 19th observation campaign with the remaining fuel. However, it worked and makes the spaceship to observe the space portion for approximately 83 days in first run.

NASA said that the Kepler team was notified that the fuel tank of Kepler is running very low.

NASA has already launched Kepler's successor, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, which will also hunt for exoplanets.

The Kepler Space Telescope has been in a heliocentric orbit around Earth since 2009. TESS has been selected by NASA as an Astrophysics Explorer mission. Since then, Kepler began a second phase of its mission called K2. From the data, the size and distance of the planet can be calculated along with if the planet's character temperatures that can determine if it's habitable.

Like this: