from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Artificial satellites are usually expensive instruments that have a limited useful life. Voyager 1 is still going, though, and it's just about to cross into interstellar space. But normally, spacecraft don't have missions that last over three decades. Here are a few space-based telescopes that have either retired recently or are about to wind down.
- NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (aka GALEX) has shut down after over a decade of observing galaxies in orbit around the Earth, and it was originally planned to have just a 29-month mission. This space telescope discovered a missing link in the evolution of galaxy evolution, and data from the instrument will continue to be analyzed for years to come. [url]
- The European Space Agency (ESA) turned off the Herschel infrared space telescope as scheduled because it ran out of its supply of liquid helium. After collecting over 25,000 hours of data, this satellite has been placed in a "disposal" orbit. In 2011, Herschel found the first confirmed evidence of oxygen molecules in space. [url]
- French Space Agency CNES has terminated its CoRoT satellite for exoplanet hunting. CoRoT was the first instrument to find an exoplanet using the transit method, but it suffered a computer failure and can no longer transmit useful data. [url]
- The Kepler space telescope has unexpectedly stopped functioning and isn't collecting data anymore. It's not officially dead because there's still a chance that it could recover. But if it doesn't come back, it still completed its mission of observing hundreds of exoplanets and has collected enough data to keep scientists busy for a long time. [url]