The planet-hunting telescope, Kepler, of NASA is broken and that’s potentially jeopardizing search for the other worlds that are outside this solar system of ours.
If the engineers fail to find the fix that could mean the end of the mission in which $600 million were spent. The telescope is able to discover many planets but there are only two till now that are best candidates as habitable planets.
A NASA chief , John Grunsfeld, said that he wouldn’t yet say that Kepler is unable to be fixed.
According to NASA, spacecraft lost second of the 4 wheels which control the orientation of spacecraft in space. Being left only with two wheels that are working, it cannot point at the stars with same precision as before.
As it is orbiting the sun, about forty million miles far from Earth, it is too distant to send the astronauts on repair mission as a mirror was ficed on the Telescope, Hubble Space. In many weeks that are to follow, engineers on ground will attempt to have the faulty wheel restarted or a workaround will be found. The telescope might be used in some other tasks if not tracking down planets.
Kepler got launched in the year 2009 to search for other planets that are Earth-like. So far, the spacecraft has confirmed about 132 planets as well as spotted above 2700 potential planets. The mission of Kepler ought to be finished by now, though last year, it was agreed by NASA to keep the spacecraft running even in 2016 at the cost of around $20 million each year.
Only last month, the scientists of Kepler announced discovery of distant duo which seems perfect place for life to thrive. Any other planets that are found by the Kepler have not fit every criterion which could make them ideal for any kind of life – microbes or even man.
Though the ground telescopes could hunt for the planets that are outside this solar system, the Kepler is more advanced as well as being the 1st space mission that is dedicated to the goal.
For four previous years, Kepler kept its telescope focused on a patch quite faraway of Milky Way that is hosting over 150,000 stars, keeping record of small dips in the brightness-sign of any planet passing at the front of star.
Charles Sobeck, the deputy manager of the project told that at this time, we cannot point the place we should and cannot gather any data.
Scientists say that there is backlog of the data which still needs to be analyzed even when Kepler stops to look for planets.
William Borucki, chief scientist at NASA Research Center at North California said that he assumes the foremost attention-grabbing, exciting discoveries happen to be here within the next 2 years and that this mission isn’t over.
The scientists who don’t have any role in Kepler mission grieved over this news. For them the new loss means that the spacecraft might never be capable of determining how many planets of Earth-size are in Goldilocks zone and there isn’t much hotness or cold for the water to be in the liquid form over the surface.
Alan Boss from Washington’s Carnegie Institution said this is a sad thing that the Kepler cannot do what it is designed for, anymore.
In the year 2017, NASA has planned on launching Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite which is designed for searching planets near stars.