Kepler's Insight to Physical Nature of Planetary Systems

nasa kepler
It’s been 808 days since the launch of one of NASA’s most prolific space observatories: the Kepler exoplanet-hunting space telescope. Kepler team members met in Boston this week at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) to give a status report on their progress toward answering one of the most timeless questions in astronomy: how abundant are Earth-sized planets in the Galaxy?

They are methodically closing in on the answer, but certainly not there yet.

For the past two years, the spacecraft has kept a steady gaze on 165,000 stars in the summer constellation Cygnus. To date, Kepler has tallied 1235 candidate exoplanets with orbits inclined such that they can be seen passing in front of their stars. This trawl has required a staggering 5.5 billion separate brightness measurements.

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