Kepler's Planet Hunting Days Could Be Over
NASA officials announced today that they are abandoning efforts to fully restore the Kepler space telescope to full working order. This most likely means the end of Kepler's planet hunting operations as the operating team look to create new goals for the damaged telescope.
In 2012 and 2013, Kepler experienced issues with reaction wheels that help it to point in specified directions. After the May 2013 event, Kepler was left with just 2 fully functioning reaction wheels, a minimum of 3 are needed to maintain planetary search.
So what next for the wobbly telescope that can? Well, the team behind Kepler recently invited the scientific community to come up with a plan for how to get the most out of Kepler's remaining functions. These suggestions, along with a full engineering study will hopefully lead to a new mission for a two-wheeled Kepler.
Don't be saddened by this tale of a banged up telescope. Kepler had already gone above and beyond expectations when the problems arose. Not only did it confirm that there are planets out there that orbit their star in the fabled 'habitable zone', it managed to find 135 of them. So who knows what else Kepler could deliver?!