Exoplanet Mesh: Scratching The Surface

Launched just this past March, the Kepler Telescope is already producing useful results:

NASA scientists who put the telescope through a 10-day test after its March 6 launch said this week that Kepler is working well. Its ability to detect minute changes in light has enabled scientists to determine that a planet orbiting a distant star has an atmosphere, shows only one side to its sun and is so hot it glows.

Kepler’s ability to take measurements that precise at such a great distance “proves we can find Earth-size planets,” William Borucki, Kepler’s principal science investigator told reporters at a recent briefing.

The powerful scope is looking at thousands of stars in its vision field in the Milky Way on a 3½-year mission to find planets the size of Earth and to determine how common these planets are.

For folks interested the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, Kepler helps put some things into context – mainly that we’re just scratching the surface since the Kepler Mission is only looking at a 100,000 stars. Click the image below to see just how small a slice of the Milky Way(let alone the universe) this is)

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