The Kepler mission will search for habitable planets, and determine their absolute sizes.
Click on image for full size
Kepler Mission - a search for habitable planets
In March 2009, NASA launched the Kepler satellite. This mission is
designed to discover Earth-like planets
around Sun-like stars. The
satellite has a 0.95-m telescope with many digital cameras to monitor the
brightness of more than 100,000 solar-type stars
for 4-6 years.
Some of the planetary systems will be oriented so that the planets might
pass in front of the host star. This will cause a brief decrease in the
amount of light seen by the satellite. The timing and depth of such a
"transit" tells us about the size of the planet compared to the star.
We will not always know the size of the star. So, the satellite will look
more closely at 512 stars at a time, to detect pulsations. This will
measure the true size of the star, and thus any planets.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes fun classroom activities
for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!
You might also be interested in:
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST found numerous...more
Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the name of the first mission...more
Apollo 12 was launched on Nov. 14, 1969, surviving a lightning strike which temporarily shut down many systems, and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended...more
Apollo 15 marked the start of a new series of missions from the Apollo space program, each capable of exploring more lunar terrain than ever before. Launched on July 26, 1971, Apollo 15 reached the Moon...more
NASA chose Deep Impact to be part of a special series called the Discovery Program on July 7, 1999. The Discovery program specializes in low-cost, scientific projects. In May 2001, Deep Impact was given...more
The Galileo spacecraft was launched on October 19, 1989. Galileo had two parts: an orbiter and a descent probe that parachuted into Jupiter's atmosphere. Galileo's main mission was to explore Jupiter and...more
During 1966 through 1967, five Lunar Orbiter spacecrafts were launched, with the purpose of mapping the Moon's surface in preparation for the Apollo and Surveyor landings. All five missions were successful....more