For the last nine years, the Kepler space telescope has been scooting around our solar system sending all sorts of information back to NASA. Much of that data has involved the discovery of more than 2,600 new planets throughout our solar system. Some of those planets might even harbor life! However, the telescope has run out of fuel and can no longer perform missions, so NASA has decided to retire the telescope.
The Kepler telescope was launched to help us find and study new planets and help in the search for extraterrestrial life throughout not only our own solar system, but those systems beyond ours. For the last 9 years, it has delivered that in spades. It has truly helped unlock new studies within the scientific community that was never before thought possible.
Many of those discoveries suggest that a good portion of the stars we see in the night sky might actually be planets that are comparable in size to Earth, with similar terrain and possibly even water on the surface. If we could ever confirm the presence of water on the surface of any of those planets, we’d be one step closer to finding life outside of our own planet.
Another interesting discovery made by the Kepler telescope is that the planetary systems that orbit around parent stores are extremely full—much more so than our own solar system.
When the Kepler launched back in 2009, it carried the largest and most sophisticated digital camera ever made at that time, and it was capable of measuring the brightness of stars like never before. It marked the first time in NASA history that efforts were made to specifically find planets outside of our own system.
It hasn’t been a perfect mission, by any means. In 2013, the telescope developed some mechanical issues that had to be dealt with before any more research could be conducted. However, the Kepler has always had an amazingly talented team of scientists working on the project and they were quickly able to fix the issues.
While the telescope is being retired, NASA will likely still conduct missions based on the data collected by the Kepler.