The primary purpose of the Kepler telescope is to find Earth like planets in the habitual zone of star systems. It accomplishes this by analyzing the dimming of stars to determine this. A critical blow to the mission occurred in 2013 when an additional gyroscopic wheel on the spacecraft stopped working. This is a large concern as a year prior a wheel had also stopped working. After several months of analysis in 2013 NASA determined that it was in their best interests to abandon the effort to fix the wheel as determined by their engineers. This was largely due to the impracticality and impossibility of NASA being able to ever fix the two wheels. One particular planet found by the Kepler spacecraft was found to emit strange patterns of light particularly in its light curves dropping tremendously at irregular intervals.
Kepler originally launched on March 7,2009 and has discovered a growing amount of planets ever since. Despite it’s mechanical wheel failures it can still garner a significant amount of planets that scientists as well as planet hunters such as a volunteer group at Yale University pour over to observe data regarding possible life and the composition and elements that the different exo-planets contain. In 2016, the Kepler mission announced that they had found the largest amount of planets ever in one year, nearly doubling the total of all the planets found since the launch of Kepler in 2009.
The cost of the Kepler telescope is also very lean compared to the cost of the James Webb Telescope. It cost only $600 million US compared to the $8.8 billion allocated for the James Webb telescope. In April 2016, the Kepler telescope went into emergency mode most likely caused by a transient event that overwhelmed the telescopes systems. The computers and onboard equipment had to be power cycled in order to return the spacecraft back to normal. Oxford University has a website set up called planethunters.org where members of the public are encouraged to look for earth sized exo-planets. Two British amateur astronomers even got a pair of planets named after them. In 2015, a group of astronomers discovered the oldest known star system to date which is believed to be around 11 billion years old. The team was led by a research fellow at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. This discovery proves that there were rocky planets 11 billion years ago, considering the fact that the universe is about 13.8 billion years old this showcases that rocky planets were able to form in the early part of the universe’s history.