Although in 1995, when the first extra-solar planet was confirmed around a star, as of 2009, with the arrival of the Kepler telescope, the discoveries skyrocketed.
In his mission, he allowed the confirmation of 2,681 worlds, while about 2,900 awaited confirmation.
Kepler will not look for more planets. After nine years of work, he ran out of fuel, confirmed NASA and will remain in orbit far from Earth.
A limitation with which it was counted, unlike the accident suffered in 2013, when one of its gyroscopes failed and forced to modify the area of observation, although it remained active.
He discovered worlds such as Kepler-186f (a name derived from the numerical order of the star observed), a planet the size of Earth in habitable zone, or Kepler-22b, a body between the size of our planet and Neptune, one that does not exist in the solar system.
"As NASA's first planetary mission, Kepler has surpassed all expectations in search of life in the Solar System and beyond," he says. Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy director of the agency at the headquarters in Washington.
In other words, this telescope changed our view of space: when you look at nighttime infinity of scintillating star points, 3 to 5 of 10 have a probably small, rocky planet in the habitable zone where there may be liquid water .
Launched in March 2009 aboard a Delta II rocket, it explored for four years a small region of the sky, about 150,000 stars between the constellations of the Swan and the Lyre, in search of very light fluctuations in the starlight that suggested the presence of a rocket. planet that passed in front of its parent star.
It is the method of transit, one of those used for the detection of planets.
When the gyro failed, the mission was redirected to a celestial stretch aligned with the plane of the Solar System in which the planets rotate.
Then he added about 500,000 stars observed.
Having found so many in this small celestial area and only one method, it suggests that in the galaxy, which houses more than 100,000 million stars, the planets are very abundant.
When a decrease in the brightness of a star is found, astronomers study the information to see if it is due to a possible planet. This is confirmation. And while the whole volume of information is analyzed, the others remain pending confirmation.
The data show that the most common planet is not the size of any solar system. It is larger than the Earth and smaller than Neptune.
It is not the only novelty. Awesome formations have been found, like many planets so close to their stars, that the inner Solar System (going to Mars) seems broad.
To cite another case, last December, with the help of artificial intelligence, eight distant planets were discovered. Thus, on an ongoing basis, the findings were presented.
In February 2014, in a single announcement, 715 new planets were presented, four years after the first detected by the telescope were confirmed: five in the same star.
"Now we know that the planets are everywhere. Kepler has put us on a new course, full of promises for future generations to explore the galaxy," he says. William Borucki, who was the scientific director of the mission.
Less known was the contribution in two active fields of astronomy: supernovae and astroarcheology.
In the first, for example, Ed Shaya, an astronomer, recalled when he analyzed Kepler's data and discovered a 10% increase in the brightness of a galaxy. Yes, the telescope had seen a supernova explosion, the final event of a massive star. And although it may be a computer error, the analysis confirmed that it was the blast.
Kepler unintentionally found over 20 supernovae, including one from an exotic class.
In astroarcheology, he has contributed numerous data on the tremors of stars, stellar waves resulting from vibrations originating in these celestial bodies and which scientists use to extract information about them.
"The Kepler mission was based on innovative design. It was very successful to do this kind of science," he says. Leslie LivesayDirector of Astronomy and Physics at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Despite the removal of the telescope, the contributions do not stop there. "It's not the end of the breakthroughs. I'm excited about the findings that will continue with the data," he says. Jessie DotsonNASA scientist
Astronomers will have years to continue digging up the information that the telescope delivered in its nine years, and they must confirm or not the existence of the thousands of reported candidates.
Kepler dies, but he lives.