NASA announced the imminent loss of an important space telescope
The Kepler space telescope, designed to search for exoplanets, will cease operation in the next few months due to exhaustion of fuel. This is reported by NASA.
A team of researchers using an observatory to monitor planetary systems plans to collect as much scientific data as possible before the engines of the apparatus cease to function. After this, the telescope can not be reoriented to establish contact with the Earth.
The exact time of full fuel consumption is difficult to predict, since there are no sensors on the Kepler that monitor the level of fuel in the tanks. Instead, the researchers are monitoring the pressure drop in them and the change in the performance of the engines. This gives only a probabilistic estimate of the operating time of the telescope.
The orbital telescope Kepler was launched in 2009. In 2013, one of the engines of the telescope went out of order, resulting in the loss of the ability to accurately orient the instrument in space. However, the telescope continues to be used within the mission K2, aimed at observing the stars in the plane of the ecliptic. With the help of Kepler, more than three thousand exoplanets were discovered.