JUL 09, 2018 06:23 PM PDT

Kepler Space Telescope Enters Low Power Mode

The fuel reserves on NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope are running dangerously low, and the space agency is now preparing to download as much of Kepler’s stored scientific data as it can.

An artist's rendition of the Kepler Space Telescope.

Image Credit: NASA

NASA expects to start the data downlink process at the beginning of August, but they’ll need to command Kepler to turn its communications antenna toward Earth before that can happen. This maneuver will use more of the spacecraft’s lingering fuel supply, but it shouldn’t use it all.

Until then, Kepler will remain in a low power mode-like hibernation state so that it doesn’t use waste its remaining fuel supply. In other words, the Kepler Space Telescope is basically sitting in orbit around the Earth and doing nothing until NASA finds the time to fiddle with it.

After NASA secures Kepler’s latest batch of scientific data, the space agency wants to send Kepler on its 19th (and final) observation campaign to study distant exoplanetary systems. This campaign will most likely drain Kepler’s fuel reserve within the next few months, but it should also yield more scientific data at the same time.

Related: NASA's Kepler Space Telescope grabbed this image of the TRAPPIST-1 system

Worthy of note, the Kepler Space Telescope doesn’t have a gas gauge as a car would. Instead, NASA engineers closely monitor several factors such as fuel tank pressure and thruster performance to estimate the amount of remaining fuel.

As NASA works on tracking Kepler’s fuel situation, astronomers from all around the world continue to analyze data collected by the spacecraft during previous observations with the hope that we might learn more about the distant worlds residing outside of our solar system.

But while the end of the Kepler mission is rapidly approaching, that’s no reason to fret. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) now resides in outer space and will soon continue exoplanetary research where Kepler leaves off.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 24, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 24, 2018
NASA's Parker Solar Probe Snaps a Picture of Earth
Back in August, a Delta IV Heavy rocket ignited its engines and lofted NASA’s highly-anticipated Parker Solar Probe into space. Just over one month l...
OCT 28, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 28, 2018
Hayabusa2 Scientists Prepare to Collect Asteroid Samples and Return Them to Earth
Near the end of September, JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission deployed two bouncing rovers on the surface of asteroid 162173 Ryugu to capture photographs and s...
NOV 13, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 13, 2018
Was Pluto Once Home to Ancient Glaciers?
When NASA’s New Horizons probe conducted its historic fly-by of Pluto in 2015, the American space agency received some of the sharpest photographs de...
DEC 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 09, 2018
NASA's InSight Lander Captured the Sound of Martian Wind
It’s been less than two weeks since NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander touch...
DEC 19, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 19, 2018
This is One of the Coldest Known Places in the Universe
Discerning the coldest place in the universe is no easy task; after all, we don’t have an ultra-long thermometer that we can merely extend out to the...
JAN 08, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 08, 2019
NASA's TESS Spacecraft Detects its Third Exoplanet
NASA may have said goodbye to its Kepler Space Telescope at the end of October last year, but the American space agency continues its search for distant ex...
Loading Comments...