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The Kepler space telescope has officially been retired by NASA after no solutions were found to fix the broken spacecraft.
The New York Times reports that another of Kepler’s reaction wheels was broken, meaning two of four were no longer in use. When the second reaction wheel broke, NASA engineers tried to figure out a way to keep the spacecraft in use, but were unable to find a solution.
“The wheels are sufficiently damaged that they cannot sustain spacecraft pointing and control for any extended period of time,” Kepler’s deputy project manager, Charles Sobeck, commented, according to the BBC. Due to only two functioning reaction wheels, the craft can no longer remain still when trying to observe possible planets.
Though Kepler may be broken, it managed to complete its prime mission in November of last year. NASA hopes that though it cannot be used to track planets, it may still find use in other ways.
NY Times notes that the $600 million spacecraft was launched in 2009 and had discovered 3,548 possible plants and 135 of those discovered were later found to be real.
“The most exciting discoveries are going to come in the next few years as we search through this data,” William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Laboratory said during a news conference on Thursday.
Image: Wikimedia Commons