The Kepler mission will search for habitable planets, and determine their absolute sizes.
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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.
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