Kepler mission may be over

Multiple failures cripple planet-hunting telescope

By Andrew Grant, 17:55 PM May 15, 2013

The telescope that has discovered thousands of exotic, quirky worlds — and a few tantalizingly Earthlike ones — orbiting distant stars is no longer capable of finding planets, at least temporarily and probably for good. Officials with NASA’s $600-million Kepler space telescope announced May 15 that an essential piece of hardware on the spacecraft has failed.

Since May 2009, Kepler has been staring at 170,000 stars and looking for tiny shadows cast by planets crossing in front of them. To en...

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