Saturday, February 5, 2011

searching for Goldilocks.. Kepler found some clues.., NASA Feb 2 2011

(image credit: NASA)

NASA announced that scientists using NASA's Kepler, a space telescope, recently discovered six planets made of a mix of rock and gases orbiting a single sun-like star, known as Kepler-11, which is located approximately 2,000 light years from Earth.

So what?

The scientific objective of the Kepler Mission is to explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems.  This is achieved by surveying a large sample of stars to achieve several goals:
  • Determine how many Earth-sized and larger planets there are in or near the habitable zone (often called "Goldilocks planets") of a wide variety of spectral types of stars.
  • Determine the range of size and shape of the orbits of these planets.
  • Estimate how many planets there are in multiple-star systems.
  • Determine the range of orbit size, brightness, size, mass and density of short-period giant planets.
  • Identify additional members of each discovered planetary system using other techniques.
  • Determine the properties of those stars that harbor planetary systems.

Most of the extrasolar planets  detected so far by other projects are giant planets, mostly the size of Jupiter and bigger. Kepler is designed to look for planets 30 to 600 times less massive, closer to the order of Earth's mass (Jupiter is 318 times more massive than Earth). 

And Kepler has well accomplished its mission according to the announcement of NASA on Wednesday!

(image credit: NASA)

2,000 light years?

New York Times did a quick smart analysis on the distance as follows.

.. It would take 300,000 years for Voyager 1, now on the way out of the solar system at 39,000 miles per hour, to travel the 20 light-years, or 120 trillion miles, to Glies 581, one of the nearest planetary systems..

We have long long way to go still but admitting that a hope is only feasible & powerful means for human kinds to trying to get out find some friendly planets and reach for the extended life of ourselves other than on earth, the discovery is more than great.. even with this very much cost effective spacecraft.. only 600 million satellite telescope.

                                          (image credit: NASA)

                                          (image credit: NASA)

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