OCT 02, 2018 05:12 PM PDT

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope Enters Sleep Mode to Preserve Data

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope earned a reputation for being quite the capable exoplanet hunter, but after all these years of memorable service to the scientific community, the spacecraft is officially running out of fuel.

An artist's rendition depicting the Kepler Space Telescope.

Image Credit: NASA

NASA’s been keeping the public apprised about the situation since March, and while the space agency took precautions by downloading most of Kepler’s scientific data earlier in the year, Kepler never stopped analyzing the heavens for hidden worlds.

But that’s about to change.

NASA recently issued a statement to the public highlighting how Kepler’s precise pointing performance appears to be degrading. It’s unquestionably a nasty side-effect of the spacecraft’s exhausted fuel reserves, but the space agency isn’t taking any chances.

In an effort to preserve the valuable scientific information stored in Kepler’s onboard storage systems, NASA ordered the spacecraft into a no-fuel sleep mode that should sustain its remaining fuel until the space agency can download the remaining data. This mode is different from the low-power state NASA put the spacecraft in back in July.

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

Citing NASA’s statement, most of Kepler’s current data encompasses the constellation of Aquarius, which the spacecraft began observing in August.

The Kepler Space Telescope doesn’t have a gas gauge as a consumer car does, so NASA relies on pertinent information such as fuel tank pressure and thruster performance to approximate how much fuel remains. Kepler’s inability to keep a steady and precise direction is indicative of poor thruster performance.

To put it lightly, the Kepler Space Telescope is now running on fumes and not much else.

NASA engineers are still mulling over how they’ll obtain the remaining data from Kepler. In the meantime, astronomers are still sifting through older Kepler data just in case it contains vital information about the universe around us.

While the Kepler mission indeed appears to be nearing its end, its legacy won’t be forgotten. NASA’s new TESS mission will pick up where Kepler left off, studying the vastness of outer space for the presence of distant exoplanets such that we can learn more about their formation and whether they’re potentially habitable or not.

Related: NASA's TESS spacecraft spies a comet ahead of official scientific observations

The future looks bright for exoplanetary research despite the circumstances surrounding the Kepler Space Telescope.

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
NOV 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 21, 2019
NASA Plans to Use a Space-Rated Drone to Study Titan
NASA is planning to develop a $1 Billion mission dubbed ‘Dragonfly’ to study Saturn’s moon Titan, a world that scientists have long thoug...
NOV 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 21, 2019
SpaceX's Starhopper Prototype Makes First Untethered Flight
SpaceX made significant progress on its deep-space Starhopper starship project last week after a prototype of the spacecraft’s rocket conducted its f...
NOV 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 21, 2019
How NASA's Dragonfly Mission Will Teach Us More About Titan
If you haven’t already heard, NASA is planning to launch a new mission dubbed Project Dragonfly, which will study Saturn’s moon Titan to learn...
NOV 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 21, 2019
What Can the Moon's Craters Tell Us?
The Moon is littered with craters, and each one tells an important story about its past. Some of those craters are large, but others are somewhat small. Th...
NOV 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 21, 2019
Here's Why NASA's Upcoming Dragonfly Mission is So Exciting
NASA’s had an interest in Saturn’s moon Titan for a very long time. Previous space-centric missions including Cassini-Huygens and Voyager 2 mad...
NOV 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 21, 2019
How Much Do You Know About Triton?
Far beyond the reach of the terrestrial and gas giant planets in our solar system exists an entirely different class of world known as ice giants. Uranus a...
Loading Comments...