NASA is putting the Kepler Space Telescope to sleep because it is almost out of fuel.
The iconic planet-hunting spacecraft was put into a “hibernation” safe mode on Monday and NASA plans to reactivate Kepler next month to return data back to Earth. If all goes well, its next observation campaign will kick off on August 6th and it will record new data until it’s tapped of fuel.
NASA launched the Kepler Space Telescope in 2009 in an effort to learn more about the number and frequency of planets in our galaxy. To the delight of many, scientists using Kepler have found an abundance of exoplanets. The spacecraft, which is some 94 million miles away from Earth, has scanned just a small section of our galactic neighborhood, but its efforts have led scientists to discover 2,650 confirmed planets so far.
NASA has already launched Kepler’s successor in order to continue to hunt for exoplanets. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was carried out to space by SpaceX Falcon 9 earlier this year.