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domingo, 25 de novembro de 2012


Kepler (spacecraft)

General information

Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.[4] The spacecraft, named in honor of the 17th-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler,[5] was launched on 7 March 2009,[6] and has been active for 3 years, 8 months and 19 days as of 26 November 2012.[7][6]
The Kepler mission is "specifically designed to survey a portion of our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover dozens of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets."[8] Kepler's only instrument is a photometer that continually monitors the brightness of over 145,000 main sequence stars in a fixed field of view.[9] This data is transmitted to Earth, then analyzed to detect periodic dimming caused by extrasolar planets that cross in front of their host star.

Kepler is part of NASA's Discovery Program of relatively low-cost, focused primary science missions. The telescope's construction and initial operation were managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with Ball Aerospace responsible for developing the Kepler flight system. The Ames Research Center is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations since December 2009, and science data analysis.
The Kepler observatory is currently in active operation, with the first main results announced on 4 January 2010. As expected, the initial discoveries were all short-period planets. As the mission continued, additional longer-period candidates were found – as of 2012, there are a total of 2,321 candidates.[10][11][12] Of these, 207 are similar in size to Earth, 680 are super-Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55 are larger than Jupiter. Moreover, 48 planet candidates were found in the habitable zones of surveyed stars. The Kepler team estimated that 5.4% of all stars host Earth-size planet candidates, and that 17% of all stars have multiple planets. In December 2011, two of the Earth-sized candidates, Kepler-20e[13] and Kepler-20f,[14] were confirmed as planets orbiting a Sun-like star, Kepler-20.[15][16][17]

Kepler descobre planeta com dois sóis...

The Kepler mission began with a planned mission lifetime of at least 3.5 years. In 2012, the mission was extended to 2016,[18][19] partly due to difficulties in processing and analyzing the huge volume of data collected by the spacecraft.[20]

Eleven new planetary systems containing 26 confirmed new planets are all in a day's work for Nasa's Kepler mission.

The gob-smacking discoveries just about double the number of planets that we know of, and triple the number of stars that are known to have more than one planet.

The newly spotted planets vary hugely in size from 1.5 times the radius of Earth to larger than Jupiter.

Fifteen are between Earth and Neptune in size. Some are rocky like Earth, but have thick gaseous atmospheres like Neptune.

Nasa reports that the planets orbit their star once every six to 143 Earth days and are all closer to their host star than Venus
is to the sun.

"Prior to the Kepler mission, we knew of perhaps 500 exoplanets across the whole sky," said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates. This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits."

The Kepler mission just keeps on wowing the world with its discoveries. Three small exoplanets, a 'Tattooine' planet (Kepler 16b) with two suns, Kepler 22b, the earth-like planet and teh Kepler 20 system are just a few of the discoveries made.

Kepler has been in space searching for habitable planets for over 1000 days, and was launched in March 2009.

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