NASA’s Kepler telescope is back again for work on its mission to hunt the alien world after being out of service for nearly a year due to technical malfunctioning developed in May 2013.
The scientists have confirmed discovery of a new exoplanet by Kepler after its return. The first alien planet found after its recovery is HIP 116454b, which is 180 light-years away. This so-called “Super Earth” is about two-and-a-half times the size of the world and nine times heavier in weight.
According to the scientists, the Earth-like planet is positioned in the constellation called Pisces and can be observed by several other astronomical instruments.
“Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Kepler has been reborn and is continuing to make discoveries. Even better, the planet it found is ripe for follow-up studies,” said lead study author Andrew Vanderburg, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).
The Kepler probe started spinning out of control in spring 2013 after its mechanism for wheeled image-stabilization broke. Scientists said that as only two of its four wheels were in working condition, the mission was retired.
They further said that due to the inability to fix its gaze on definite points in the space, the spatial telescope was found pretty worthless in recording optical data and searching exoplanets.
Earlier this year, the NASA engineers found a way to rig the investigating observatory so that the pressure of the sun’s rays pinned it into a stable position.
But as soon as the tests found that the troubleshooting had worked well, the US space agency approved funding for the next Kepler mission — K2.
“Last summer, the possibility of a scientifically productive mission for Kepler after its reaction wheel failure in its extended mission was not part of the conversation,” Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director, said while adding, “Today, thanks to an innovative idea and lots of hard work by the NASA and Ball Aerospace team, Kepler may well deliver the first candidates for follow-up study by the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of distant worlds and search for signatures of life.”
According to the scientists, the handicapped investigation will be the only work for 80 days at a time.
Keppler has discovered more than 1,700 new alien worlds after its launch in 2009.