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Countdown to Kepler March 3, 2009

Posted by Sarah in science.
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Astronomers’ eyes are on NASA this week as the agency aims to launch its mission for tracking down Earth-like exoplanets on Friday night (early Saturday morning if you’re in Europe). Over its three-year lifetime, Kepler will observe over 100,000 stars in a small part of the sky, over and over again to spot the tiny dips in brightness caused by a planet casting its shadow onto the star as it passes in front of it. Together with its European cousin CoRoT, which has been in orbit for a while already, Kepler is likely to increase our tally of known exoplanets by a factor of many. There’s been a ton of great media coverage about Kepler already so I’ll round up a few nice links here. And there’ll be much more to follow!

From NASA itself: the mission homepage, launch schedule. A live launch blog will appear here 2 hours before launch.

Follow Kepler on Twitter.

The New York Times have a great feature here.

Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute gives his perspective on Discovery Space. Discovery Space have a little Kepler-themed area even, here.

A BBC story on British industrial involvement in Kepler.

[Update 04/03]

Director of Hubble news Ray Villard (Cosmic Ray) gives his perspective.

A news story in Nature.

Image credit: Ball Aerospace

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