Kepler telescope glitch may slow search for alien worlds

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PostTue Nov 03, 2009 5:45 pm » by Nickelson


A technical glitch on the Kepler space telescope may mean that the search for Earth-like planets around alien suns will take longer than anticipated.

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Mercury making a transit across our Sun. Kepler is watching for similar events in alien solar systems Photo: NASA

The problem, with the telescope’s light detectors, could put back any discoveries by up to a year.

Kepler was launched in March to discover planets in the life-friendly “goldilocks zone” around other stars. It does this by gazing steadily at stars looking for the minuscule dips in brightness caused by a planet as it passes in front of the star. These micro-eclipses are called “transits”.

The space telescope confirmed that it could do its job when it spotted a previously unknown gas giant in August – the first alien planet it had detected.

However, its goal of finding Earth-sized planets is far harder than spotting a vast gas giant hundreds of times bigger than our home world.

To make matters harder, to support life as we understand it, the planet must be at a distance from its star that will allow liquid water to exist on the planet – not to hot, and not too cold, hence “goldilocks”.

So Kepler has to be sensitive to phenomenally tiny changes in a star’s brightness – as little as 0.01 per cent for an Earth-sized planet. To do this, the telescope has 42 light-detecting chips, each split into two channels and studying certain sections of the sky.

Nasa has now discovered that three of these channels are flickering like faulty lightbulbs, giving the impression that any star it studies looks "like it's changing its brightness at a rapid rate", according to Kepler chief scientist William Borucki of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

Because it is only three out of 84 channels, it may not matter. However, astronomers need to witness three transits before they can confirm a new planet. If the planet has a similar orbit to Earth, it will only pass in front of the sun (if it does at all) once a year. So even without the glitch, a twin Earth could not be discovered until 2012.

That said, the goldilocks zone around smaller, cooler stars is closer in, and so a planet there would orbit faster. Kepler could observe three transits as soon as 2010. However, if it is watched by a faulty detector, it could not be confirmed until software to correct the glitch is available in 2011.

Dr Borucki says: "It may delay the announcement of discovery by six months or a year."

However, he is keen to stress that the problem is not a major one. "People have found a pimple here and they are trying to make it into a mountain," he told New Scientist. "A lot of the planets will show up regardless."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/spac ... orlds.html

So even without the glitch, a twin Earth could not be discovered until 2012.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

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PostTue Nov 03, 2009 5:57 pm » by Nickelson


A technical glitch on the Kepler space telescope may mean that the search for Earth-like planets around alien suns will take longer than anticipated.


For all I know this is just a bunch of crap, because they already found lots of "exo-planets", not exactly "Twin Earths", but might as well could be.

So why is this news anyway? Just a new reason for them to lie to us again and again?
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.



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