NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer was shut down last Friday after the agency sent a decommission signal to the orbiting telescope. According to NASA, the craft will fall to Earth in the next 65 years and burn up upon re-entry; the telescope’s original mission was anticipated to last 29-months, but extended beyond 10 years. During its lifetime, launching in 2003, the GALEX helped researchers learn more about how stars and galaxies are born.
NASA said technology used by GALEX peered across 10 billion years of cosmic time, spying on hundreds of millions of nebulae and spiral galaxies. During its career, GALEX witnessed a black hole devour a star, and even independently confirmed the nature of dark energy, according to NPR.
“GALEX is a remarkable accomplishment,” said NASA’s GALEX program executive in Washington. “This small Explorer mission has mapped and studies galaxies in the ultraviolet, light we cannot see with our own eyes, across most of the sky.”
Even though the craft has been decommissioned, researchers will still review data collected by the telescope, which will be shared with the public over the next year. “[GALEX’s] science discoveries will keep on going,” said NASA’s Kerry Erickson.