In its final days, a dying NASA telescope discovered three exoplanets – Last Gasp.
In its final days, a dying NASA telescope discovered three exoplanets – Last Gasp
The universe is vast and mysterious, and humans have always been fascinated by the possibility of life beyond our planet. For centuries, we have looked up at the stars and wondered if there are other worlds out there, and if we are alone in the universe. In recent years, advances in technology have allowed us to explore the cosmos in ways that were once unimaginable, and we have made incredible discoveries that have expanded our understanding of the universe.
One of the most exciting areas of exploration is the search for exoplanets, or planets that orbit stars other than our sun. The discovery of exoplanets has been a major breakthrough in our understanding of the universe, and has opened up new possibilities for finding life beyond Earth. NASA has been at the forefront of this search, using a variety of telescopes and other instruments to detect exoplanets and study their properties.
One of these telescopes was the Kepler space telescope, which was launched in 2009 with the mission of discovering exoplanets. Over the course of its nine-year mission, Kepler detected thousands of exoplanets, revolutionizing our understanding of the universe. However, in 2018, the telescope ran out of fuel and was retired, bringing an end to its groundbreaking mission.
But even in its final days, Kepler continued to make discoveries. In its last few weeks of operation, the telescope detected three new exoplanets, bringing its total number of confirmed exoplanets to 2,681. These new discoveries were made using a technique called the transit method, which involves measuring the slight dimming of a star’s light as a planet passes in front of it.
The three new exoplanets are all located in the habitable zone of their respective stars, meaning that they are at a distance where liquid water could exist on their surfaces. This is a key factor in the search for life beyond Earth, as water is considered to be a necessary ingredient for life as we know it. The three exoplanets are also relatively small, with radii ranging from 1.3 to 2.5 times that of Earth.
The discovery of these new exoplanets is a testament to the incredible capabilities of the Kepler telescope, and to the dedication of the scientists and engineers who worked on the mission. Despite its age and declining health, Kepler continued to make groundbreaking discoveries until the very end, expanding our understanding of the universe and our place in it.
But the legacy of Kepler goes beyond its scientific discoveries. The mission has inspired a new generation of scientists and engineers, and has shown us what is possible when we push the boundaries of technology and explore the unknown. As we continue to search for exoplanets and study their properties, we are building on the legacy of Kepler and paving the way for new discoveries that will shape our understanding of the universe for generations to come.
In conclusion, the discovery of the three exoplanets by the Kepler space telescope in its final days is a testament to the incredible capabilities of the telescope and the dedication of the scientists and engineers who worked on the mission. These new discoveries have expanded our understanding of the universe and opened up new possibilities for finding life beyond Earth. As we continue to explore the cosmos, we are building on the legacy of Kepler and paving the way for new discoveries that will shape our understanding of the universe for generations to come.