"Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars".
"The search for exoplanets using the Kepler data is still underway". The unmanned space telescope, which launched in 2009, revealed that billions of hidden planets are in space and revolutionized humanity's understanding of the universe, experts said. "Many are still hiding in the data, ready to be discovered", said Susan Mullally, a scientist working on the Kepler mission at STScI.
One such planet, Kepler-186f, is very much like Earth.
Kepler focused on the stars near the constellation Cygnus and found that small planets are common in the Milky Way Galaxy. "It was an extremely clever approach to doing this kind of science", said Leslie Livesay, director for astronomy and physics at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who served as Kepler project manager during mission development.
Four years into the mission, after the primary mission objectives had been met, some mechanical failures temporarily halted observations. The mission team was able to devise a fix, switching the spacecraft's field of view roughly every three months.
The Kepler mission had an impressive success as Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate himself admits that it was 'wildly exceeded all our expectations.' Along with its nine years-long mission, the telescope collected a huge amount of new data that now scientist have to interpret and learn about.
While the data collection phase for Kepler has ended, STScI's Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes will continue to make all data from the Kepler observatory available in perpetuity.
The Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes or MAST at the Space Telescope Science Institute will make the data accumulated over almost a decade of deep space observation available to the public. Now, however, Kepler's fantastic journey came to an end, many upcoming missions are waiting in the wings and will take over the exoplanet search.
NASA lauded the discoveries made by the spacecraft, many of which it said could be promising places for life.
This image was spotted as part of Hubble mission to better understand how new stars are born.