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Old March 10th, 2009, 12:00 AM
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saundby saundby is offline
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Default Kepler on its Way

One of the most exciting missions going these days has launched successfully:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ke...ain/index.html

It'll be looking for exoplanets in Cygnus and Lyra by watching for slight dimming of the light from 200,000 stars in that area. It's got a nice big 40-inch mirror, and will be watching long enough to catch planets in the habitable zones of the parent stars. It's sensitive enough to detect planets down to about half Earth's size.

The smallest exoplanet found so far (by the Corot mission of the ESA, another nifty planet-finder) is about twice the size of Earth and it's pleasant enough if you like the daytime side of Crematoria.

It'll be interesting to see what we can see with a new instrument that will catch more than the heavyweight and short period planets. We should start to get a more balanced view of what's out there around other stars.
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