NASA to Revive Kepler Telescope for New Exoplanet Mission

NASA Plans to Revive Kepler Telescope for New Mission

After facing positioning system problem in 2013, NASA scientists are planning to revive its planet-hunting Kepler space telescope for a new mission. The NASA administration has approved a two-year follow-on mission encompassing all types of stars, star clusters including the Pleiades and the Beehive Cluster, supernova and also objects beyond Milky Way. Kepler Telescope was launched to search for presence of liquid water on Earth-sized planets suitably positioned around their parent stars in 2009.

During its mission, Kepler Telescope added 962 confirmations and 3,845 candidates to the list of 1,713 planets discovered beyond the solar system. It worked by monitoring about 150,000 target stars for slight. But unfortunately, Kepler lost its second of four positioning wheels with breakage of its steady gaze last year.

Charlie Sobeck, Kepler deputy project manager, recently announced that the two-wheel operation mode of the Kepler spacecraft has been approved. Charlie said that May 30 marks beginning of the first observations of the new campaign, termed K2.

It has been reported that an earth-sized planet revolving around its host star would transit once in every 365 days. With the help of Kepler telescope, scientists are planning to see at least three transits to be sure any telltale light dips are caused by a passing and not a stellar flare or other phenomenon.

Engineers have come up with a novel plan to use pressure from sunlight to balance the telescope, but it is believed that it will not work well to catch faint signs of small, transiting planets. Currently, Kepler, flying in an orbit at around 40 million miles from earth, costs NASA about $18 million a year.

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