artist concept of Kepler

Kepler, a Planet-Hunting Mission

May 14 & 15

Kepler, a NASA mission launching in the spring of 2009, is a spaceborne telescope designed to survey distant stars to see how common Earth-like planets are. Kepler will detect planets indirectly, using the "transit" method – measuring how a star’s light dims slightly as one of its planets passes in front of it. Besides revealing the presence of a planet, this light signature can also tell us the planet’s size and orbit. Other measures then are used to determine if each planet discovered is in the habitable zone; that is, at the distance from its star where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet.

Dr. James Fanson
Project Manager, Kepler
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Standard Podcast: Play video (with captions)