For 100’s of year, we have been wondering if there are other planets around other stars. Is there life outside our solar system? But we did not know if there were any planets around other stars. On March 7th 2009 Kepler telescope was launched to space via The Delta 2 Rocket for the purpose of finding out planets similar to our own Earth.
It collected astounding data showing there are more planets than stars in the Milky Way galaxy. In 9.6 years of its operation, it discovered 2662 planets observing 530,506 planets. Kepler telescope having 1-m housing with 95-megapixel digital camera consists of a photometer which observes millions of main sequence stars in the fixed field of view. It detects the exoplanets by the periodic dimming of the light from the host star caused by the blocking due to the movement of exoplanets. Kepler Telescope initially planned to work for 3.5 years had had its two reaction wheel stopped in 2013. But, NASA was able to use reflected light from the stars to fix the telescope. The mission was named k2 and it continued finding planets for 5 years more. Kepler telescope has given us a clue about many planets like earth. For instance, the planets Kepler -22b, KOI 2626, Kepler 62f etc. has a portion of land, water and may contain the animals or alien. However, the planets are very far from us that it is impossible to reach there. It has been a trail for a long time to know the nearest neighbouring planet where the habitat is possible.
Kepler Telescope officially is retired from 30th October 2018 due to the insufficient hydrazine fuel. It has to be praised for its asset in discoveries. To complete its mission, TESS(Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has been launched by NASA since 18th April 2018. It is based on the same principle of Kepler and is supposed to orbit the star 10 times closer and discover many more planets. Now, its time to say goodbye to “the planet hunter” and to wait for the discoveries by TESS.
By: Manish Sharma Timilsina