Sunday, February 01, 2009

"Earth-hunter telescope prepared for launch"

Good. Get it up there.
TITUSVILLE, Florida - NASA unveiled a modest telescope on Friday with a sweeping mission — to discover if there are any Earth-type planets orbiting distant stars.


Named after the 17th century astronomer who figured out the motions of planets, Kepler is scheduled for liftoff on March 5 aboard an unmanned Delta 2 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Once in position trailing Earth in orbit, Kepler will spend at least 3 1/2 years focused on a star-rich patch of sky between the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.

Equipped with a 95 megapixel camera -- the largest ever flown in space -- Kepler will attempt to find Earth-sized planets flying across the face of their parent stars.


"This is a very small signal and it's very difficult to predict," said James Fanson, Kepler project manager at the U.S. space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "The plan is to stare at this place for three years and wait for the stars to wink."

When talking about when and if we can ever find an Earth-like planet, Fanson had this to say: "We're privileged to live in a time and in a country that has the technology to answer these questions scientifically."

Amen. That's one of the reasons the United States is a great place to live and a great place for the planet. We just may end up saving the human race someday.

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