Requiem for Kepler? NASA's pioneering planet-finder
Since its 2009 launch, NASA's Kepler space telescope has chalked up an impressive list of firsts and logged a tidy tally of newly discovered exoplanets (planets outside our solar system): 132 confirmed, plus another 2,740 unconfirmed "candidates."
Perhaps most impressive, the craft has helped make a household notion of the idea that there may in fact be oodles of Earth-like, potentially life-supporting planets tucked among the many stars of the Milky Way.
With NASA announcing this week that an equipment malfunction might mean an end to Kepler's mission, we thought we'd pay homage to the craft and take a look back at its life and work.
The image above is an artist's rendition of Kepler on the job, gazing intently into the cosmos. Click through the rest of the slideshow to refresh your memory of the mission, watch the craft come into being, and check out some of Kepler's mind-expanding -- and imagination-fueling -- discoveries.
May 19, 2013 12:01 AM PDT
Photo by: NASA/JPL-Caltech
| Caption by: Edward Moyer
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