Year in Review: Death of a planet hunter

Kepler ends successful mission

By Andrew Grant, 17:18 PM December 12, 2013


When NASA’s Kepler space telescope launched in March 2009, astronomers had no proof that any star other than the sun harbored an Earth-sized planet (with a diameter within 25 percent of Earth’s). By May 2013, when the telescope suffered a mechanical failure that ended its planet hunt, Kepler scientists had discovered 10 such worlds and identified hundreds of yet-to-be-confirmed Earth-sized candidates.

Kepler’s death blow came when the second of four wheels used to orient the telescope failed...

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