02 March 2011
Posted in Our Planet, Our Universe
The Kepler mission hit another home run with the discovery of 1,235 possible new planets in the galaxy! These “exo” or “extra” planets are scattered across the Milky Way— large and small—orbiting stars other than the sun. Wondering how the Kepler spacecraft works? This planet locater is actually a telescope that follows the earth around its orbit of the sun, recording what it sees. The Kepler telescope is always pointed at the same area in the sky, so when there are changes in the starlight, it shows that a planet is close at hand. When the planet passes by the telescope, the light will dim and then return to normal. According to Science News, this will allow scientists to begin composing a galactic planetary census which will show how many planets are in the galaxy.
NASA’s quest to find a planet that inhabits life is currently in full swing, more than ever before. This discovery gives scientists new and original locations to hunt, causing an astronomy frenzy! Scientist will be looking at locations where the exoplanets orbit around a star, allowing the perfect temperature for life, creating a habitable or “goldilocks” zone—not too hot, not too cold, but just right.
There are now 54 prospective planets in that zone, the smallest are about the size of Earth. This is a new chapter for scientist in the field of astronomy, in the search to find another earth-like planet.