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NASA Space Science

NASA: Mission Accomplished, Kepler – Now Look Harder Still 28

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-seek-out-new-life-and-new-civilizations dept.
cylonlover writes "It's been more than three and a half years since the Kepler Space Telescope began its mission as humanity's watcher for Earth-like planets outside of the Solar System. In that time, Kepler has done exactly what was asked of it: provide the data to help identify more than 2,300 exoplanet candidates in other star systems. And so NASA has announced the 'successful completion' of Kepler's prime mission. There's one nagging detail, though: we are yet to find a truly Earth-like planet. It's time to alter the parameters of the search, which is why NASA has announced Kepler will now begin an extended mission that could last as long as four years."
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NASA: Mission Accomplished, Kepler – Now Look Harder Still

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  • Re:Subtlety (Score:5, Informative)

    by wierd_w (1375923) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:00PM (#42008133)

    More like:

    OK, we discovered that planet formation is radically more common than we previously thought. When we designed the parameters of Kepler's mission, we wanted to detect large bodies because they would be easier to detect, and they would give us a statistical sampling we could use to determine how frequent planetary systems are.

    We know that now. We aren't so interested in big jupiter size gas giants. They don't get the funding dollars we are looking for. So, now that kepler's initial mission objective is met, we will call it a success, and start a new mission, with tighter controls, looking exclusively for small, rocky planets in the systems we know to have really big gas giants in them.

  • by mbone (558574) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @12:04AM (#42009817)

    Kepler is not looking at particularly close stars, so it not likely to find any real flyby candidates, even for the century star ship time frame. The recent find at Alpha Centauri is much more encouraging in that regard.

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