After 9 years of honored career and after radically changing our knowledge of the universe, the Kepler space telescope has retired. To announce the fact is NASA itself, the telescope has finished the fuel supply necessary for the maneuvers and, as it is not possible to refuel it, the only solution was to stop the mission.
During his lifetime Kepler has contributed significantly to our knowledge of the universe. Thanks to Kepler we now know about 2600 more planets, and that between 20% and 50% of the stars visible in the night sky probably have small orbiting planets, rocky and similar to ours, located within the habitable zone where the water it is liquid.
In fact, the purpose of Kepler’s mission was double: on the one hand he had to discover new planets, and on the other hand to try to understand how many are actually or could become habitable for human kind.
Kepler’s mission began with the ideas of the scientists who worked there 35 years ago, when we did not even know a planet outside the solar system. But with the arrival of the telescope and over 530 thousand stars observed, now we are “full” of planets to analyze and many are still missing.
Initially, Kepler was designed to observe only a certain region in the sky, but as the technology progressed, some changes could be made to exploit, among other things, the solar wind. Every 90 days a new slice of sky was observed, making new discoveries and allowing us to collect over 600 GB of data during Kepler’s more than 9 years of operational life.
Now that Kepler is retired, TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) will take his place. TESS is the evolution of the technology used in Kepler and was launched in April 2018 on board a Falcon 9 from SpaceX. But nobody will forget about Kepler, who will now rest in space for a long, long time.
In the name of all humanity, I thank you for the enormous work you have done, and I wish you a good rest. Goodbye Kepler.