Our Cosmos is a Spacecraft Graveyard

While it’s common to think of the universe as dark, mysterious and infinite, it’s less often that we consider all the human-made space junk floating around nearby. The cosmos is a graveyard of spacecraft—each with its own story. These defunct vessels “glide silently in Earth’s vicinity” with “their mission to chronicle the wonders of the universe long ended.” The Kepler, for instance, trails our planet since running …

Farewell to NASA’s Kepler Telescope

Kepler—the beloved NASA telescope responsible for discovering 70% of the 3,800 confirmed “alien worlds” to date—officially met its end yesterday. After nearly a decade of exploration, the telescope ran out of fuel and can no longer transmit data or focus on transient objects in space. During its time in flight the Kepler was able to study nearly 150,000 stars simultaneously and could determine exactly which ones …