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Kepler Mission

Analysis and Comment (6)

Kepler 78b is a lot like Earth…if Earth was on fire. Kepler 78b is a lot like Earth…if Earth was on fire. TORLEY/Flickr

Almost Earth – another step on the road to habitable worlds

Two papers were published today in Nature, each independently revealing that a planet discovered by the Kepler mission is the closest thing we’ve found yet to another Earth. But don’t pack your bags just…
Two of Kepler’s four reaction wheels have stopped working, which may mean the end for the spacecraft. Two of Kepler’s four reaction wheels have stopped working, which may mean the end for the spacecraft. NASA/Kepler mission/Wendy Stenzel

The end of Kepler? That would be universally bad

As I write this, engineers at NASA and Ball Aerospace & Technologies have their fingers crossed they’ll be able to restart the stricken Kepler space observatory, which has been in hibernation mode…
Many exoplanets have been found, but there’s plenty left to uncover. Many exoplanets have been found, but there’s plenty left to uncover. Dallas1200am

Kepler’s findings are out of this world (and the best is yet to come)

Over the past few months, NASA’s Kepler mission has repeatedly made headlines with announcements of new and unusual planetary systems around other stars. To name a few, we’ve had the most densely packed…
What’s so special about the latest big discovery by NASA’s Kepler? What’s so special about the latest big discovery by NASA’s Kepler? NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Don’t pack your bags yet – Kepler-22b (probably) isn’t the next Earth

On Monday, to much fanfare, astronomers working with the Kepler space observatory (which was launched in March 2009) announced their first discovery of a planet orbiting within the “habitable zone” of…
Are we getting closer to solving one of life’s greatest mysteries? Are we getting closer to solving one of life’s greatest mysteries? jcoterhals

Where is everybody? Doing the maths on extraterrestrial life

During a lunch in the summer of 1950, physicists Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller and Herbert York were chatting about a recent New Yorker cartoon depicting aliens abducting trash cans in flying saucers. Suddenly…
Hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered, but are we any closer to finding life? Hundreds of exoplanets have been discovered, but are we any closer to finding life? AAP

Exoplanets: how the search for life became sexy

In the late 1980s, when I was a young whipper-snapper just starting out as an astronomer, it was quite obvious some fields had an incredibly high profile and others were outré. The sexy ideas at the time…