Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is there life on other planets?

Maybe.  NASA is working to find out.
In March 2009, NASA launched the Kepler Mission on Discovery Mission #10 with the goal of finding other Earth-like planets in the universe.   Kepler is an unmanned space observatory that monitors over 145,000 stars (remember, our sun is a star) and provides data to determine if there are life-supporting planets orbiting those stars.  Planets outside of our solar system are called “exoplanets”. 
Kepler finds exoplanets by watching stars.  As you know, stars give off light.  Kepler watches the stars to see if there is a disturbance, or flicker in the light.  If that flicker happens repeatedly at regular times, Kepler has discovered a planet.   This link is an interactive tool for kids to learn how Kepler is spotting planets:  Kepler Exoplanet Transit Hunt Check out the Kepler: A Search for Habitable Planets for more some great information from NASA.
There is a great app for the IPhone and IPad called “Exoplanet” which is a daily updated database of all discovered exoplanets.

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