NASA have announced that after nine years in-orbit the Kepler space telescope has ceased its planet hunting mission on 30 October. Kepler has been in a low-fuel state for months however, it entered a “no-fuel-use” safe mode on 19 October, following a significant drop in fuel pressure recorded by controllers during a September communication with the spacecraft.
The Kepler mission was launched in March 2009, as the first NASA planet hunting mission and 10th Discovery-class mission. During its tenure in-orbit, Kepler has been responsible for the identification of 2,681 exoplanets, with 2,899 further exoplanet candidates awaiting approval.
TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) the “heir” to Kepler is a NASA Explorer-class mission launched in April 2018, however, unlike the “narrow” field-of-view of Kepler, TESS provides a “whole-sky” survey.