The Kepler Mission
Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA. It is the first mission of the world that has the ability to find Earth analog planets that are orbiting stars like our Sun in the ‘habitable zone’. The habitable zone can be defined as the region around a star with temperature just right for water to pool on a planet’s surface. In February 2011, the team of Kepler Mission has announced that they had found 54 planets that are thought to be suitable for life as they lie in the habitable zone of their stars. Five planets out of these 54 are same as size of Earth. This mission is named after a German astronomer Johannes Kepler.
Quick Facts: –
- This spacecraft was launched in an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit on March 7, 2009.
- On January 6, 2015 NASA announced the 1,000th confirmed exoplanets discovered by Kepler Space Telescope.
- Initially, this spacecraft’s planned lifespan was only about 3 to 4 years.
- Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date found in the habitable zone of a G2-type star.
- This planet is 60% larger in diameter than earth. It is also known as ‘super earth sized planet’.
- Kepler was launched gazing at a fixed spot in the constellation Cygnus.
- The sole instrument of this spacecraft to gaze through the galaxy and find life is a photometer.
- This telescope simultaneously looks at roughly 145,000 stars and determines even the slightest of changes in their brightness.
- When any change is determined in a star’s brightness, it starts focusing in and checks whether the dimming is caused by a planet in front of the star.
- The Kepler Space Telescope is one of the largest telescopes ever launched into space and has the largest mirror in the known universe.