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Planet hunter runs out of gas

NASA has announced that it will stop gathering data from its Kepler Space Telescope, because it has run out of fuel and can no longer function as needed.

During nine years of operations, Kepler enabled researchers to identify more than 2,600 planets outside the solar system, NASA said in an announcement of the telescope’s demise on 30 October. The data Kepler gathered indicates that the universe contains billions of hidden planets, the agency said.

“Kepler has opened our eyes to the diversity of planets that exist in our galaxy,” NASA said. “The most recent analysis of Kepler’s discoveries concludes that 20 to 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky are likely to have small, possibly rocky, planets similar in size to Earth, and located within the habitable zone of their parent stars.”

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