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Kepler Mission

Comparison of Kepler-7b and Jupiter (Image: NASA)

"How's the weather?" has just become a topic of interstellar conversation. Using data from NASA's Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes, astronomers have mapped the first clouds discovered on an extrasolar planet. Not only does this technique give us an interesting bit of pure science, it could also be applied in the search for more earth-like planets according to NASA.  Read More

Kepler 78b has a year 8.5 hours long and orbits its sun at a distance only three times the...

Sometimes it seems as if the year just flies by. On planet Kepler 78b, it does exactly that. According to a team of scientists at MIT, the extrasolar world is so close to its sun that its year is only 8.5 hours long. That means that not only could a person go through almost three birthdays in one day, but that the surface temperature would be like taking up residence in a blast furnace.  Read More

After abandoning repair efforts, NASA is looking for alternative missions for Kepler (Imag...

If NASA has anything to say about it, Kepler is down, but not out. At a press teleconference on Thursday it announced that it has abandoned efforts to repair the damaged unmanned probe, which was designed to search for extrasolar planets and is no longer steady enough to continue its hunt. But the space agency is looking into alternative missions for the spacecraft based on its remaining capabilities.  Read More

The Kepler spacecraft could still hunt planets using gravity miscrolensing ( Image: NASA)

Last month, NASA declared its Kepler mission to hunt exoplanets at an end when one of the space telescope’s reaction wheels failed. Unable to keep itself pointed in the right direction, it could no longer carry on its hunt for planets beyond the Solar System. That seemed like the end of things, but Keith Horne of the University of St Andrews and Andrew Gould of Ohio State University disagree. They claim that Kepler could still hunt for exoplanets using gravity microlensing to detect how stars with planets distort space.  Read More

Artist's impression of Kepler (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Kepler space mission may be coming to an unexpected end. The space agency announced on Wednesday that the spacecraft, designed to seek out possible earth-like extraterrestrial bodies, has suffered a malfunction that may make it impossible to carry on with its search.  Read More

Kepler-76b was identified using the BEER effect (Image: Dood Evan)

Due to their relative faintness compared to their parent stars, most known exoplanets have been discovered using indirect detection methods – that is, detecting the effects they have rather than observing them directly. There are numerous indirect methods that have proven useful in the detection of exoplanets and now yet another, which relies on Einstein’s special theory of relativity, has joined the list with the discovery of an exoplanet known as Kepler-76b.  Read More

Artist's concept of Kepler-62f (Image: NASA)

NASA has announced that the Kepler space probe has discovered two planetary systems that include the smallest planets yet found that lie in the "habitable zone." The systems include three super-Earth size planets, with one of them being a habitable-zone exoplanet that is the closest in size to Earth yet discovered.  Read More

A recent analysis of the data gathered from the Kepler telescope has revealed that Earth-s...

The latest analysis of data coming from NASA's Kepler telescope has revealed that nearly all the Sun-like stars in our galaxy appear to have planets orbiting them, and that at least 17 percent of them – about one in six – are hosting a planet the size of our own in close orbit. Because the Milky Way is estimated to contain some 100 billion stars, this means that our galaxy alone could have at least 17 billion Earth-sized planets, some of which may harbor the conditions for life.  Read More

Artist's impression of Kepler-47, the first confirmed binary system with multiple planets ...

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.  Read More

Artist's rendering of KOI-961 (Image: NASA)

Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler mission have discovered the tiniest solar system found so far. The system consists of a single red dwarf star, known as KOI-961 and three planets which are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the radius of Earth. The planets are thought to be rocky - like Earth - but orbit much closer to their star making them too hot to be habitable.  Read More

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