November 28, 2010
What is the Kepler mission? Many people don’t even know what is going on here on earth let alone in space. The Kepler mission is searching the skies for planets that are the same size as earth and worlds that could possibly similar to our own (Site 1). The Kepler spacecraft has found over 750 candidates for extra solar planets and that is just from data collected in the first 43 days of the spacecraft's observations. This is the biggest release of candidate planets that has ever happened. This is amazing; just imagine if there is that many other planets like earth with human life on it. The Kepler team has found so many candidates, they are sharing. They will keep the top 400 candidates to verify and confirm with observations using other telescopes with observations done by Kepler team members (Site 2). Us as human being can only think and wonder if there is life outside of this planet. The Kepler mission is our chance to find out. Kepler launched on March 6, 2009, and has been on the hunt for exoplanets (Site 2). The Kepler instrument is a specially designed 0.95-meter diameter telescope called a photometer or light meter. It has a very large field of view for an astronomical telescope 105 square degrees, which is comparable to the area of your hand held at arm's length. The fields of view of most telescopes are less than one square degree. Kepler needs the large field of view in order to observe the large number of stars. It stares at the same star field for the entire mission and continuously and simultaneously monitors the brightness’s of more than 100,000 stars for at least 3.5 years, the initial length of the mission, which can be extended (Site 1). Extending the mission beyond three and one half years provides for improving the signal to noise by combining more transits to permit detection of smaller planets. Another reason why extending the mission is good is to find...