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Image credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/W. Stenzel/D. Rutter

NASA bids Kepler 'goodnight' with last set of commands

The space telescope has entered eternal sleep.
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NASA/Ames Research Center/W. Stenzel/D. Rutter

The Kepler Space Telescope has officially gone to sleep for good. On November 15th, the death anniversary of its namesake German astronomer Johannes Kepler, its ground team sent it a series of "goodnight" commands. They were meant to disable the telescope's safety modes that could switch it back on and to shut down its transmitters to completely cut off communications. Since the observatory is spinning, the team had to time their beams -- a task they successfully accomplished, because according to Kepler's Twitter account, it indeed received the final set of commands.

Kepler headed to space in 2009 to find Earth-size planets in habitable zones. It found over 2,000 exoplanets during its run -- with thousands more still waiting for confirmation -- until it ran out of fuel. NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will take over its planet-hunting tasks going forward. TESS left Earth earlier this year and captured its first light image in September.

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