Kepler: the first data, and hundreds of possible new planets

Remember Kepler? It’s the space probe with a mission to locate planets that are similar to our own (which are our best bet to start looking for life, or at least life we’d recognise). It launched in March 2009, and started looking in June of that year. NASA has been collecting, reviewing, and categorising that […]

Kepler updates

Remember Kepler, the NASA project that will search for Earth-like planets that might sustain life? You can read updates on its progress here. They’re calibrating the photometer at the time I write this. Hi! I should be back from my Australian vacation sometime today. I’ll be blogging again in real time real soon.

NASA’s Kepler mission to look for other planets capable of sustaining life

Tomorrow evening (US eastern time) is the earliest window in which NASA’s Kepler mission may launch. This is very exciting because Kepler’s main mission is to locate planets that are similar, and in similar positions, to our own. Planets like Earth are the ones where we’d be most likely to find life as we know it. […]

New techniques for finding new planets

One of the astronomical activities that excites me most is the search for other planets outside our solar system. I’ve mentioned the Kepler probe before as one example – and, so far, a very successful one – of this planet-hunting. But how do we find these planets? Although we have some pretty powerful telescopes planets […]

Knowing your place

In philosophy class last night we discussed the Copernican revolution. As you’ll recall, his 16th-century theory that the Earth was not, in fact, the centre of the universe was the source of much controversy. It was the source of even more controversy (and condemnation) later, when it was supported by observations and models from Galileo […]