I’m so excited — I’m going to the NASA Tweetup at Ames Research Center on February 11! I am one of only 100 tweeters invited (it was a lottery drawing from all applicants) so I want to study up on what they’re doing at Ames and be able to really absorb everything I can while I’m there.
The two projects we’ll be focusing on are the Kepler and SOFIA missions. I am studying Kepler first because its mission statement really grabbed me: Kepler: A Search for Habitable Planets. Wow, like something out of sci-fi movie, only it’s reality right NOW! The picture here is of a Kepler-10b, a rocky planet about 1.4 times the size of Earth, announced on January 10, 2011. It took eight months of Kepler data to make the calculations that discovered Kepler-10b. I’m reading up on how the Kepler telescope works tomorrow.
Kepler is only looking at a very small part of the Milky Way. How small? Well, check out this graphic from NASA that shows the Kepler’s area of concentration. Go on, click on the graphic and it will display larger and then you can really try to grasp how huge our galaxy is (and we’re only one galaxy, there are so many more out there, it’s mind-blowing, seriously!).
Next time you look up in the night sky and see the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra constellations in our Galaxy, think of Kepler, looking there for more planets, more chances to find new places, and perhaps, new races.
Interested in reading more about Kepler’s mission? Here you go: Kepler Mission on the NASA web site.