Closing In On an Earth-Sized Planet

Now Kepler has found the much-anticipated first rocky, Earth-sized exoplanet. It did it by staring for months on end at the same 150,000 stars in the constellation Cygnus. Kepler’s 1-meter-diameter telescope, hooked up to a sensitive light-measuring instrument, is capable of detecting the dimming of a star as a planet orbits in front of it—even if the star dims by only 0.01%. That’s like detecting the dimming of 10,000 light bulbs when one burns out, noted Kepler deputy science team leader Natalie Batalha of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. (Source)

Maybe we need to find one sooner rather than later?

“As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not…. These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words…. We’re better than this. We must do better.” Scott Kelly, Commander of the International Space Station and brother-in-law of of Gabrielle Gilfords

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