Using a 96 million pixel camera array, Kepler will detect Earth-like planets over a 3.5-year period.
Artist's impression of Kepler Spacecraft
Searching for an Earth-like planet
Kepler target region in Milky Way
Kepler Photometer - cross section
On March 5, NASA will launch the largest camera ever sent into space in an attempt to find the holy grail of astronomy: an Earth-like planet. The $591 million Kepler craft will orbit the sun for at least 3.5 years, using an unprecedented 0.95-meter diameter Schmidt telescope packing an array of 42 CCDs, each with 2200x1024 pixels, to scan over 100,000 stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region of the galaxy. The craft is seeking planets in the “goldilocks” zone – not too close to the sun, and not too far – but the scope of the project means that no matter what scientists find, our understanding of the universe will be greatly enhanced.
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