Science Finding 'sister' planets 


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One of the most exciting things happening in science comes from astronomy.  It is the search for other planets like ours in the Milky Way.. 

Variations in light scaled up as a planet moves in front of a distant star

How is this done?  The idea is to look at a likely star and see if there are periodic changes in the energy and light that reaches us.  Astronomers have worked out excellent techniques to find planets orbiting distant stars.  To date 500 large planets have been found.  The techniques are delicate and require new methods.  They are looking for those that exist in the habitable zone, that is, not to far and not to near the star.

None so far have been enough like earth to gain the status of 'sister planet', but that will change   The Kepler NASA discovery mission has the following mission:

The Kepler Mission, NASA Discovery mission #10, is specifically designed to survey a portion of our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover dozens of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets.

If you would like more go to the Kepler Mission Web Site

An excellent video is available from the Perimeter Institute given by the young Canadian-American astronomer Sara Seager from MIT.

To keep track of all these news items, make sure you go to CCNews for the sources.

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Monday, April 25, 2011