Friday, April 17, 2009
The first images from a new space telescope show sections of space where Earth-like planets may exist.
Kepler’s pictures reveal a vast star field in the Cygnus-Lyra region of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
One picture is peppered with stars filling the telescope’s full field of view. Two others zoom in on targeted regions.
Lia LaPiana, programme executive at Nasa, said: “Kepler’s first glimpse of the sky is awe-inspiring. To be able to see millions of stars in a single snapshot is simply breathtaking.”
The 15ft telescope, fitted with British-made light detectors, was launched last month from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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It will spend three and a half years focused on a patch of sky equivalent to the size of an arm’s length.
Its mission is to search for unknown planets nestled amongst more than 100,000 stars.
Scientists hope Kepler will find the first evidence of small, rocky planets like the Earth with the right conditions to support life.
Full story here.