NASA’s Kepler exoplanet hunter has transformed our view of the Cosmos. In the years since it was launched in 2009, it has confirmed the discovery of hundreds of small alien worlds and glimpsed thousands of candidates.
Astronomers have even been able to use Kepler data to estimate that every star in our galaxy has, on average, 1.6 planets in orbit. Sadly, the mission has hit a stumbling block — two of its reaction wheels have broken down, forcing the orbital ‘scope into hibernation while mission managers plan in ingenious ‘bootstrapping’ plan to get some of Kepler’s functionality back online.
Although Kepler is never far from the headlines, it can be difficult to comprehend how the mission works and just how profound its discoveries are. In this awesome video released by Deep Astronomy, narrated by Tony Darnell and produced by Scott Lewis, Kepler’s science is explained, giving us a fascinating insight to this historic exoplanet-hunting mission.
This article was provided by Discovery News.
Get the Space.com Newsletter
Breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!
Ian O'Neill is a media relations specialist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. Prior to joining JPL, he served as editor for the Astronomical Society of the Pacific‘s Mercury magazine and Mercury Online and contributed articles to a number of other publications, including Space.com, Space.com, Live Science, HISTORY.com, Scientific American. Ian holds a Ph.D in solar physics and a master's degree in planetary and space physics.