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Archive for Friday, March 6, 2009

Telescope to hunt for Earth-like planets

This artist’s rendition provided by NASA shows the Kepler space telescope, which is designed to search for Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy.

This artist’s rendition provided by NASA shows the Kepler space telescope, which is designed to search for Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy.

March 6, 2009

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— NASA will soon be on the lookout for possible Earths in one faraway corner of the galaxy.

A planet-hunting spacecraft, named Kepler after the German 17th-century astrophysicist, is scheduled to rocket away from Cape Canaveral tonight. Excellent launch weather is expected.

The telescope will spend 3 1/2 years staring at roughly 100,000 stars, measuring their brightness and any winks in the light that might signify orbiting planets.

“We certainly won’t find E.T., but we might find E.T.’s home by looking at all of these stars,” Bill Boruki, Kepler’s principal scientist, said Thursday.

Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for science, said Kepler is not just another science mission.

“It very possibly could tell us that Earths are very, very common, that we have lots of neighbors out there, or it could tell us that Earths are really, really, really rare,” Weiler said.

“Perhaps we’re the only Earth. I think that would be a very bad answer because I, for one, don’t want to live in an empty universe where we’re the best there is. That’s a scary thought to many of us.”

Kepler will be scouting for Earth-size planets circling stars in the so-called habitable or Goldilocks zone. That’s where planets are neither too close nor too far from their star, and where conditions could be ripe for liquid water on the surface.

The stars to be observed by Kepler are between 600 and 3,000 light years away.

Kepler is 15 feet high and 9 feet in diameter. The mission costs $600 million, from start to finish.

Comments

gr 5 years, 1 month ago

salad, you missed my point and bozo's opposite. Do you think two wrongs make a right? Why not correct the first wrong rather than add another?

How is YOUR day going?

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 1 month ago

Maybe Barry can find a Surgeon General on a distant planet.

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couranna1 5 years, 1 month ago

Star Trek is real. This is not the time to spend money on this

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barrypenders 5 years, 1 month ago

When the going gets tuff, look at the pasture on the green side of the....

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

This falls into the category of "basic research." We need to be spending much more than we do on basic research, although not necessarily on the space program. For example, in some respects, we know more about space than we do our own oceans.

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alf4kat 5 years, 1 month ago

Personally I think that spending the money to find out if there are other Earth-like planets out there is worth it. Just knowing that there might be life somewhere out in the universe is exciting to me and I'd like to know more about what is possibly out there. I think that people who find spending $ on programs like this is a waste should take some time to think about why they feel it's a waste. For those people I ask you "Would'nt you like to know if were alone? Don't you want to know why there's so many types of life on our planet but we have'nt found life anywhere else yet?" That's my question.

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parrotuya 5 years, 1 month ago

It's funny how close-minded conserva-hards think nothing of spending $1 trillion on Iraq so far, but a NASA telescope costing less than $1 billion is a waste of money. No wonder there is an economic crisis.

some good reasons for this: 1. Knowing how other planets work may help us manage and understand our own planet. 2. Help us to understand how planets form and possibly how life arose. 3. If there are inhabitable planets out there, we know that there is some place to go. If there are none, then we know that we need to work harder at maintaining what we have.

The argument that it is too expensive to ever go there: It would be very expensive. If the Earth becomes irreversibly uninhabitable, what would you do? Stay here, do nothing and die? Or find a way to get to the habitable planet?

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salad 5 years, 1 month ago

gr (Anonymous) says…

“Probably not such a bad idea if we're going to continue to spend $trillions”

"So, bozo, you are saying if we are spending money for something you disagree with, then we should also spend money on fantasies? What kind of logic is that?"

So gr, by extension of your own argument, does that mean you're in favor of spending trillions to make the earth uninhabitable? Let's look at your day so far: 1. Bury head in sand......check! 2. Get tripped up by own words....check! 3. Make futile tirades against things that I don't understand, people who aren't like me, and things that frighten me.....check!

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gr 5 years, 1 month ago

"Probably not such a bad idea if we're going to continue to spend $trillions"

So, bozo, you are saying if we are spending money for something you disagree with, then we should also spend money on fantasies? What kind of logic is that?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 1 month ago

"Yes - let's continue to spend trillions on escapist fantasies."

Probably not such a bad idea if we're going to continue to spend $trillions making the only planet we have uninhabitable.

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75x55 5 years, 1 month ago

Then we keep expending vast sums of resources on the pipe dream of "colonizing" and leaving "the problems" behind.

Yes - let's continue to spend trillions on escapist fantasies.

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tumbilweed 5 years, 1 month ago

I dig looking at the stars, but spending 600 million will tell us if there are other planets out there.....

OK. Then what?

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