The question remains: Will we live our lives looking for others, and die doing the same, when there was just one habitable planet – Earth?
Whatever the answer is, Kepler is an interesting mission, and a whole new area untouched, being entered! What will the results be? Only time will tell.
The Delta II rocket carrying the Kepler planet-hunting spacecraft lifted off on time at 10:49 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spectacular nighttime launch followed a smooth countdown free of technical issues or weather concerns.
Kepler’s mission: to peer closely at a patch of space for at least three-and-a-half years, looking for rocky planets similar to our own. The spacecraft will target an area rich with stars like our sun, watching for a slight dimming in the starlight as planets slip through the space between.
“Kepler is a critical component in NASA’s broader efforts to ultimately find and study planets where Earth-like conditions may be present,” said Jon Morse, the Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The planetary census Kepler takes will be very important for understanding the frequency of Earth-size planets in our galaxy and planning future missions that directly detect and characterize such worlds around nearby stars.”
Here are five of the best factes about Kepler, as revealed by NASA:
– Kepler is the world’s first mission with the ability to find true Earth analogs — planets that orbit stars like our sun in the “habitable zone.” The habitable zone is the region around a star where the temperature is just right for water — an essential ingredient for life as we know it — to pool on a planet’s surface.
– By the end of Kepler’s three-and-one-half-year mission, it will give us a good idea of how common or rare other Earths are in our Milky Way galaxy. This will be an important step in answering the age-old question: Are we alone?
– Kepler detects planets by looking for periodic dips in the brightness of stars. Some planets pass in front of their stars as seen from our point of view on Earth; when they do, they cause their stars to dim slightly, an event Kepler can see.
– Kepler has the largest camera ever launched into space, a 95-megapixel array of charge-coupled devices, or CCDs, like those in everyday digital cameras.
– Kepler’s telescope is so powerful that, from its view up in space, it could detect one person in a small town turning off a porch light at night.
Watch these awesome videos:
Overview of the Kepler mission:
The Kepler mission update:
There was one last bit that I couldn’t satisfactorily write about, owing to the vastness of the subject:
So who was Johannes Kepler? Click here!
SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!