NASA has extended the Kepler mission through fiscal year 2016, adding four years to Kepler’s search for Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy and allowing LASP to continue our work operating the spacecraft.
A team of 20 University of Colorado students and 16 LASP professionals control the Kepler spacecraft from the LASP Mission Operations Center. The mission’s extension, based on a recommendation by a NASA Senior Review of its operating missions, will allow LASP to continue providing students with hands-on spacecraft mission operations experience.
Bill Possel, Director of Mission Operations and Data Systems at LASP, said, “We are very excited to have the Kepler mission extended. Kepler is one of the most exciting missions ever operated by LASP, and the scientific findings are truly remarkable.”
The Kepler mission surveys the galaxy for Earth-sized planets with the potential to support life. To date, the Kepler Science Team has confirmed 61 planets in the Milky Way habitable zone, where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface.