Planet Stalking Kepler Space Telescope Meets Its End

But after that scientists have found their way to keep it in operational mode but now as telescope has run out of fuel, the telescope has now retired from the mission. Kepler also found nature often produces jam-packed planetary systems, in some cases with so many planets orbiting close to their parent stars that our own inner solar system looks sparse by comparison. That kept things going for another five years, but Kepler's work is now complete.

After its four-year primary mission, the spacecraft was repurposed to observe the stars near the zodiacal constellations. That means that they are located at a distance from the stars that orbit where liquid water, a vital ingredient for life as we know it, can accumulate on the surface of these exoplanets.

Years later and after overcoming mechanical failures, Kepler discovered more than 2,600 exoplanets and analyzed up to 50,000 stars, according to NASA calculations.

These data are an inheritance of all humanity that will outlast the Kepler mission's brief life for time without limit. Kepler's readings have helped scientists study in depth the history of our Milky Way galaxy and the early stages of supernovae. Before Kepler, we had discovered just a few hundred exoplanets, but the technology of the Kepler, allowed scientists to add more than 2,600 exoplanets to our databases. The data from the extended mission were also made available to the public and science community immediately, allowing discoveries to be made at an incredible pace and setting a high bar for other missions.

NASA recently announced that it has chose to end the mission of the Kepler space telescope, an instrument that has served to discover more than 2,600 exoplanets in the last nine years. Now, however, Kepler's fantastic journey came to an end, many upcoming missions are waiting in the wings and will take over the exoplanet search. Kepler telescope had been running low on fuel for months.

NASA's Astrophysics Explorer Program has selected the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Mission to fly in 2017.

Are we alone? NASA's new planet-hunting mission, poised to launch Monday, aims to advance the search for extraterrestrial life by scanning the skies for nearby, Earth-like planets. TESS will follow in the footsteps of NASA's pioneering Kepler Mission, continuing the groundbreaking ...

In mid-November, a company called Rocket Lab will try to send six small satellites into orbit around Earth-a fairly banal undertaking, save for the size of the launch rocket.

Vanessa Coleman