Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Kepler to Be Sent on Four-Year Mission to Seek Out Earthlike Planets

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will be sending the Kepler spacecraft out in 2008 to hunt for extrasolar planets, particularly those that resemble Earth. Kepler is actually a telescope that will measure the brightness of a star. Any planet that's just the right size will cause the star to dim. The telescope will be able to detect this reduction in light. The advantage of using this technique for Kepler is that the telescope will not be impeded by the distorting effects of the atmosphere. It's measurements will be reliable since it will be working in outer space. It will be doing its' job for four years, but it's lifespan may be extended with repairs and upgrades just like what's been done with the Hubble Space Telescope.

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