The Kepler Space Telescope team is ending its attempts to restore the spacecraft to full working order.
Our great space observatory cannot be repaired.
Two of Kepler's four gyroscope-like reaction wheels, which are used to precisely point the spacecraft,
The first was lost in July 2012, and the second in May. Engineers' efforts to restore at least one of the
wheels have been unsuccessful.
An artist's interpretation of the Kepler observatory in space. NASA
As scientists analyze previously collected data, the Kepler team also is looking into whether the space
telescope can conduct a different type of science program, including an exoplanet search, using the remaining
two good reaction wheels and thrusters.
"Kepler has made extraordinary discoveries in finding exoplanets including several super-Earths in the
habitable zone," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
"Knowing that Kepler has successfully collected all the data from its prime mission, I am confident that
more amazing discoveries are on the horizon."
From the data collected in the first half of its mission, Kepler has confirmed 135 exoplanets and identified
over 3,500 candidates.
On Aug. 8, engineers conducted a system-level performance test to evaluate Kepler's current capabilities.
They determined wheel 2, which failed last year, can no longer provide the precision pointing necessary
for science data collection.
Kepler spacecraft is approximately 40 million miles (64 million km) from Earth, too far away for astronaut
or a robotic-led repair mission.
The spacecraft was returned to its point rest state, which is a stable configuration where Kepler uses
thrusters to control its pointing with minimal fuel use.
The team continues to analyze all four years of collected data, expecting hundreds, if not thousands, of
new discoveries including the long-awaited Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars.
Though the spacecraft will no longer operate with its unparalleled precision pointing, scientists expect
Kepler's most interesting discoveries are still to come.
The second Kepler Science Conference which will take place on Nov. 4-8, at NASA's Ames Research Center will
give an opportunity to share not only the investigations of the Kepler project team, but also those of the
wider science community using publicly accessible data from Kepler.
The Wandering Stars
In ancient civilizations, people pondered the meanings of the stars, watching for clues to their survival: the beginning of planting and
harvesting times, the seasons, and even portents of danger.
They soon noticed that certain stars didn't stay in place, but wandered amongst the fixed star field.
"The Most Profound Mystery In All Of Science" -
Little is known about this force and its its repulsive gravity, which is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate.
The riddles of dark matter and cosmic inflation, along with dark energy, these are the three pillars of modern cosmological theory,"
and none of them can be explained with physics that we know," Michael Turner, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics says.
Doesn't Secret Dark Matter Exist?
The more scientists study dark matter they know lesser and are not particularly optimistic about their results.
After completing this study, we know less about dark matter than we did before," said Matt Walker, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
A mysterious and still unknown substance is totally invisible in the Universe and reveals its presence only through its gravitational pull.
Mysteries Of A Dark Universe
Cosmology, the study of the universe as a whole, has been turned on its head by a stunning discovery that the universe is flying apart in all directions at an ever-increasing rate. Is the universe really as we think it should be? Or is nature somehow fooling us?
The astronomers whose data revealed this accelerating universe have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Black Holes With No 'Table Manners' Eat Two Courses At Once!
It is still unknown how the supermassive black holes (SMBH) in galaxy centres accrete gas and grow.
Researchers from the University of Leicester (UK) and Monash University in Australia have investigated how some black holes got so big so fast that they are billions of times heavier than the sun.
Mercury Surprises Scientists
On March 17, MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space Environment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) completed its one-year primary mission, orbiting Mercury, capturing nearly 100,000 images, and recording data
that reveals new information about the planet's core, topography, and the mysterious radar bright material in the permanently shadowed areas near the poles.
Living Earth Simulator - Supercomputer Predicting The Future
In Douglas Adams book the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy we encounter a machine called Deep Thought. It is the most powerful computer ever built. Deep Thought is capable of answering questions
concerning life, the Universe, and simply everything. Now scientists are planning to create a similar machine. It is called the Living Earth Simulator (LES).
Warp-Speed Planets Are Some Of The Fastest Objects In The Milky Way
Warped planets are some of the fastest objects in the Milky Way and they zoom through space near the speed of light.
Some years ago astronomers were astonished when they they found the first runaway star flying out of our Galaxy at a speed of 1.5 million miles per hour.
The discovery intrigued theorists, who wondered: If a star can get tossed outward at such an extreme velocity, could the same thing happen to planets?