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Kepler’s primary mission gets over

Washington, Nov 15 (): NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope was launched earlier to discover potentially inhabitable, Earth-sized planets. Kepler has completed successfully its 3 ½ years primary mission and now goes on board to an extended mission that could continue for another four years.

Kepler was launched in 2002, on 6th March. Kepler has cast its net very wide indeed since 2009. From then, scientists have made use of the data from Kepler to recognise over 2,300 planet candidates and to confirm over 100 planets – discovering the galaxy teeming with the planetary systems.

So far, planet candidates of earth size have been discovered in hundreds and also candidates that circle in habitable zone – an area in a particular planetary system in which water might be present on the external surface of planet – a statement of NASA said.

In the planets discovered, none is accurately like our Earth. With completion of Kepler’s prime mission, it has collected sufficient data to start finding accurate sun-Earth analogy – Earth-sized planets with another one-year orbiting around the stars, which are similar to sun.

William Borucki, principal investigator of Kepler at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Moffett Field, California said that the initial findings of Kepler mission show that at the least one third of stars consist of planets and number of planets present in our own galaxy must be in billions.

Borucki said that the planets of highest interest are the other Earths. These could be data pending analysis. Some more exciting results of Kepler are however to be released.

The Telescope is continuously searching for the planet candidates circling the suns at a distance or the exoplanets, by measuring brightness of above 150,000 stars.

The planets are found by the theory, when one planet candidate moves or travels in front of the star from the vantage point of spacecraft, light coming from star is obstructed. Various sized planets obstruct starlight in different amounts. The amount of starlight blocked by the planet reveals the size of the planet relative to the respective star.

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