Kepler Mission – Are We Alone?

Kepler Mission - NASA

Kepler Mission - NASA

Are there any Earth type planets out there? Welp, NASA’s Kepler mission will launch this Friday and be on its way to find out.

This Friday, March 6, NASA Ames Exploration Center will present demonstrations on the technology used on the Kepler spacecraft followed by the live televised launch of the Kepler spacecraft. Admission is free.

The Kepler Mission will check out a part of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets.

The Kepler will look for terrestrial planets, those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water and possibly life might exist.

Bill Borucki, Kepler Principal Investigator, NASA Ames: “The habitable zone is where we think water will be. If you can find liquid water on the surface, we think we may very well find life there. So that zone is not too close to the star, because it’s too hot and the water boils. Not too far away where the water’s condensed and ice-covered, a planet covered with glaciers. It’s the goldilocks zone, not too hot, not too cold, just right for life.”

NASA’s Ames Research Center is the home organization of the principal science investigator and is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis.

The Kepler Mission is named after Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) a German mathematician and astronomer who discovered that the Earth and planets travel about the sun in elliptical orbits.

The NASA Exploration Center is located outside the main gate of NASA Ames, location map here.

Friday, March 6, 2009
Doors open at 5:30 pm, and the program includes:

5:45-6:30 Kepler Orrery demonstrations (learn how the spacecraft will detect planets)
6:40 Welcome, Lewis Braxton, Deputy Center Director
6:45 Ames’ history of planetary exploration – Jack Boyd, Ames historian
7:00 Kepler Mission Overview – Dr. Tom Roellig, NASA Ames Astrophysicist and Kepler co-investigator
7:48 Kepler Launch – televised live from Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The Exploration Center will remain open for approximately one hour following the launch. Launch windows are 7:49 – 7:52 pm and 8:13 – 8:16 pm.

Way too much information here.

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