LOS ANGELES, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has put the Kepler spacecraft in a hibernation-like state because it is low on fuel and is preparing to download the data collected, the agency announced Friday.
On Aug. 2, the mission team will command the spacecraft to awaken from its no-fuel-use state and maneuver the spacecraft to the correct orientation and downlink the data.
Returning the data back to Earth is the highest priority for the remaining fuel, said NASA.
To bring the data home, the spacecraft must point its large antenna back to Earth and transmit the data during its allotted Deep Space Network time, which is scheduled in early August.
Once the data has been downloaded, the team will begin its 19th observation campaign on Aug. 6 with the remaining fuel.
The Kepler Space Telescope, which was launched in 2009, has scanned just a small section of our galactic neighborhood, but its efforts have led scientists to discover 2,650 confirmed planets so far. It was expected to run out of fuel in the next few months.
NASA has already launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, a successor to Kepler in April. TESS has already snapped its first image of the galactic sky.