OCT 02, 2018 5:12 PM PDT

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

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
JUL 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Should We Fly By Venus on the Way to Mars?
JUL 07, 2020
Should We Fly By Venus on the Way to Mars?
After landing on the Moon, heading to Mars became the next logical step for space exploration. Some suggest that flying ...
JUL 30, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Indian Schoolgirls Discover Asteroid Moving Towards Earth
JUL 30, 2020
Indian Schoolgirls Discover Asteroid Moving Towards Earth
During a project sponsored by Space India and NASA, two schoolgirls aged 14 in the 10th grade discovered an asteroid nea ...
AUG 25, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Carbon Foam Spacecraft Could Travel 4.37 Light Years in 185 Years
AUG 25, 2020
Carbon Foam Spacecraft Could Travel 4.37 Light Years in 185 Years
A new study has found that carbon-foam spacecraft could fly between Earth and Alpha Centauri, the closest planetary syst ...
SEP 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
An Unusual Black Hole Merges with Another
SEP 07, 2020
An Unusual Black Hole Merges with Another
A bulky black hole, which may have already been the product of a black hole merger, appears to have tangled with a more ...
OCT 10, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Are There Planets Better for Life than Earth?
OCT 10, 2020
Are There Planets Better for Life than Earth?
Researchers have found at least 24 planets outside of our solar system may be better for life than Earth. Each a little ...
NOV 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Evidence of Supernovae Found in Ancient Tree Rings
NOV 14, 2020
Evidence of Supernovae Found in Ancient Tree Rings
Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have found that the rings in Earth's ancient trees may hold evid ...
Loading Comments...