International space agency NASA has decided to pause scientific observations in the Kepler spacecraft following low levels of fuel.
In its official release, NASA stated that it the spacecraft needed to conserve fuel to enable downlink of its data that it had collected over the course of its journey.
“NASA has placed the spacecraft in a hibernation-like state in preparation to download the science data collected in its latest observation campaign. Once the data has been downloaded, the expectation is to start observations for the next campaign with any remaining fuel.” the release said.
In the release, NASA further stated that the spacecraft was on its 18th observation campaign since May 12, studying over the Cancer Constellation which it had studied in 2015 also.
The allotted Deep Space Network Time to download the collected data from the spacecraft is scheduled in August. Officials at the space agency will wake the spacecraft from hibernation and calibrate its antenna towards earth to download the collected data after which it will continue with its 19th observation campaign with the remaining fuel.
NASA astronomer Geert Barentsen in a tweet said “This is not "the end of Kepler" by any means. We have an incredible data set that will continue to yield discoveries for a long time.”
Kepler, which was launched in 2009 aimed at collecting data of Earth-like planets near Sun-like stars. The lifespan during its launch was predicted to be three years, however, it continued collecting data of a whopping 2650 planets (confirmed) till 2018.
The agency, however, will continue their funding to analyze the data that the spacecraft has collected over nine years since 2009.
NASA will provide further updates after the scheduled download of data. Among other findings, recently 24 new planet discoveries were made using data from the 10th observation campaign.