Kepler Space Telescope Current Affairs

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NASA’s Kepler Telescope finds 10 Earth-Like Planets

NASA’s Kepler Telescope has identified 10 Earth-like planets outside the solar system that are expected to host life due to their right size and temperature. This finding is a boost  in the hope for life elsewhere.

Exoplanet: It is a planet that does not orbit the Sun and instead orbits a different star, stellar remnant, or brown dwarf. It is also termed as extrasolar planet.

After an extensive search carried out for four years, NASA’s Kepler space telescope has detected a total of 49 planets in the Goldilocks zone. This number is set to increase as Kepler telescope has so far looked only in one quarter of one percent of a galaxy that holds about 200 billion of stars.

Goldilocks Zone refers to a habitable zone where the temperature is neither too high nor too low.

NASA has announced the discovery of 10 planets as a part of 219 new planets identified by the Kepler telescope as part of the final batch of planets since Kepler was launched in 2009. Kepler’s main mission got ended in 2013 after two of its four wheels that control its orientation in space got failed.

Kepler has identified more than 4,000 planet candidates and confirmed more than half of them. The number of potentially habitable planets could be lot more as Kepler was only able to identify only those planets that move between the telescope vision and its star.

By using Kepler and other methods, scientists have discovered around 3,600 exoplanets and about 62 potentially habitable planets.

With the launch of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) by NASA in 2018, chances of studying planets and detecting a familiar atmosphere will increase manifold. JWST will succeed the Hubble space telescope.

Kepler Space Telescope

Kepler Space Telescope (KST) is an unmanned space observatory launched in 2009 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It is tasked with determining how many Earth-like planets occur throughout the Milky Way galaxy. It has been designed for a statistical mission and not to probe into the environmental conditions of planets that exist in the so-called Goldilocks zone (Habitable zone) of their stars.

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Astronomers discover Venus-like planet orbiting a dim star Kepler-1649

Astronomers using NASA’s Kepler space telescope have discovered a Venus-like planet orbiting a dim star called Kepler-1649.

The newly found planet is one-fifth the diameter of our Sun and is only slightly larger than Earth. It is located 219 light years away from Earth.

Key Facts
  • The Venus-like planet tightly embraces its low-temperature star Kepler-1649 by encircling it every nine days.
  • The tight orbit around the star causes the flux of sunlight reaching it to be 2.3 times as great as the solar flux on Earth. For comparison, the solar flux on Venus is 1.9 times the terrestrial value (on earth).
  • The discovery will provide insight into the nature of planets encircling around M dwarf stars, by far the most common type in the universe.

About Venus

  • Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty.
  • It is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” because of their similar size, mass, proximity to Sun, and bulk composition. It has no natural satellite.
  • But it is radically different from Earth in other respects. It has densest atmosphere of four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% CO2. The atmospheric pressure at its planet’s surface is 92 times that of Earth.
  • Note: Venus is by far the hottest planet in the Solar System, with a mean surface temperature 462 °C even though Mercury is closer to the Sun.

About Kepler Space Telescope (KST)

  • KST is an unmanned space observatory launched in 2009 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • It is tasked with determining how commonly, Earth-like planets occur throughout the Milky Way galaxy.
  • KST works by observing a dimming in the light of a star, known as a transit, each time an orbiting planet passes in front of it.
  • It has been designed for a statistical mission and not to probe into the environmental conditions of planets that exist in the so-called Goldilocks zone (Habitable zone) of their stars.

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