Kepler Telescope, Now Back To Life, Discovers New Exoplanet

Aaron Homer

The Kepler Telescope has been brought back to life, and for the first time since its resurrection it's found a new exoplanet - that is, a planet outside our own solar system, Universe Today is reporting.

You may recall that, in 2013, the Kepler telescope suffered a catastrophic malfunction that put the $600 million mission in jeopardy, according to this Inquisitr report, dashing the hopes of any new planets being found by the spacecraft.

However, space scientists found a workaround, according to Space, and brought the hobbled spacecraft back to life, re-branding the mission "K2."

Today, Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced that the K2 mission has discovered its first new planet.

"Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Kepler has been reborn and is continuing to make discoveries. Even better, the planet it found is ripe for follow-up studies."

The Center for Astrophysics (CFA) explains how Kepler susses out new planets: by carefully watching for transits - the shadow cast by the planet as it passes between the Kepler spacecraft and its own sun. For this reason, large planets and small stars make for easy targets for Kepler.

However, due to the 2013 malfunction, Kepler needs some extra help from scientists back on the ground to confirm is findings.

"Due to Kepler's reduced pointing capabilities, extracting useful data requires sophisticated computer analysis. Vanderburg and his colleagues developed specialized software to correct for spacecraft movements, achieving about half the photometric precision of the original Kepler mission."

John Johnson of the CFA is excited about studying the new planet - in particular, looking for signs of life.

"HIP 116454b will be a top target for telescopes on the ground and in space."

[Image courtesy of: Huffington Post]