3004267 story Countdown To NASA's Kepler Mission 27 Posted by Soulskill on Sunday January 11, 2009 @09:10AM from the strange-new-worlds dept. Adam Korbitz writes "NASA's planet-hunting Kepler mission is set to launch late on the evening of March 6th. A few days ago, the space telescope arrived in Florida for final launch preparations. According to the NASA/JPL Planet Quest website: 'Kepler will hunt for planets using a specialized one-meter diameter telescope called a photometer to measure the small changes in brightness caused by the transits. Over a four-year period, Kepler will continuously view an amount of sky about equal to the size of a human hand held at arm's length or about equal in area to two "scoops" of the sky made with the Big Dipper constellation.' A map of the area Kepler will search is shown superimposed on a picture of the constellation Cygnus, The Swan. NASA has posted a countdown clock for Kepler, as well as animations of the spacecraft mission and the science objectives."