Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kepler







For the longest time, I had thought about large schmidtt cameras with huge CCD surface areas at the primary mirror. Probably, I was not the first to think of it.

"Excerpt: WASHINGTON -- NASA's Kepler spacecraft is ready to be moved to the launch pad today and will soon begin a journey to search for worlds that could potentially host life. Kepler is scheduled to blast into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., aboard a Delta II rocket on March 5 at 10:48 p.m. EST. ..."Kepler is a critical component in NASA's broader efforts to ultimately find and study planets where Earth-like conditions may be present," said Jon Morse, the Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The planetary census Kepler takes will be very important for understanding the frequency of Earth-size planets in our galaxy and planning future missions that directly detect and characterize such worlds around nearby stars." ...In the end, the mission will be our first step toward answering a question posed by the ancient Greeks: are there other worlds like ours or are we alone? "Finding that most stars have Earths implies that the conditions that support the development of life could be common throughout our galaxy," said William Borucki, Kepler's science principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "Finding few or no Earths indicates that we might be alone."
..."If Kepler were to look down at a small town on Earth at night from space, it would be able to detect the dimming of a porch light as somebody passed in front," said James Fanson, Kepler project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. By staring at one large patch of sky for the duration of its lifetime, Kepler will be able to watch planets periodically transit their stars over multiple cycles."

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