The Kepler mission will search for habitable planets, and determine their absolute sizes using stellar seismology.
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Kepler Mission - a search for habitable planets

In March 2009, NASA launched the Kepler satellite. This mission is designed to discover habitable Earth-like planets around distant Sun-like stars. The satellite has a 0.95-m telescope with an array of digital cameras to monitor the brightness of more than 100,000 solar-type stars for 4-6 years.

Some of the expected planetary systems will be oriented so that the planets might pass in front of the host star. This will cause a brief decrease in the amount of light recorded by the satellite. The duration and depth of such a "transit" tells us about the size of the planet relative to the star.

In general, we will not know the size of the star. So, there will be a revolving selection of 512 stars monitored more frequently to detect pulsations. This will provide the absolute size of the star, and thus any planets.

Last modified December 15, 2009 by Travis Metcalfe.

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