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EXO WORLDS
Kepler Attached To Rocket
by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) Feb 26, 2009


The Kepler spacecraft is moved inside a protective container out of the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Fla., to begin its trek to Launch Complex 17 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. There, it will be hoisted atop the Delta II rocket that is to send it into space. Image credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

The Kepler spacecraft has been lifted into place and attached to the Delta II rocket that will launch it into space. The work is on schedule to launch the observatory on March 5 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida's Atlantic coast.

It is the first mission with the ability to find planets like Earth - rocky planets that orbit sun-like stars in a warm zone where liquid water could be maintained on the surface. Liquid water is believed to be essential for the formation of life.

"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."

The Kepler spacecraft will watch a patch of space for 3.5 years or more for signs of Earth-sized planets moving around stars similar to the sun. The patch that Kepler will watch contains about 100,000 stars like the sun.

Using special detectors similar to those used in digital cameras, Kepler will look for slight dimming in the stars as planets pass between the star and Kepler. The Kepler's place in space will allow it to watch the same stars constantly throughout its mission, something observatories like Hubble cannot do.

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Related Links
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Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth






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EXO WORLDS
Counting On Kepler
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Feb 25, 2009
NASA's Kepler spacecraft 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 7:48 p.m. Pacific Time (10:48 p.m. Eastern Time). It is the first mission with the ability to find planets like Earth - rocky ... read more


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