NASA to Extend Kepler Mission to 2016?By: Heather Campobello - April 4, 2012
The Kepler mission may be extended for another two years after a report from NASA’s senior review board. The spacecraft was named in honor of the 17th-century German astronomer Johannes Kepler and was launched in March 2009. It was supposed to return around September of 2012.
The purpose of the mission is to survey portions 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.
It has been determined that Kepler has, “enabled remarkable stellar science” through its discovery of several exoplanets.
In the past few days we have gotten news that there are quite possibly billions of planets in the Milky Way that can suport life. Including up to 100 planets within 20 light years.
Astronomers have been reaching out for funding in reaction to these discoveries to continue their Kepler-related work through websites like PetriDish. In an effort to answer whether we are alone in this world or not PetriDish has been trying to gain funding for the Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler (HEK) project. The donations will go towards the creation of a super computer dedicated to finding exomoons.
The importance of such research comes from the theory that there may be more habitable exomoons in the cosmos than exoplanets.
Do you think we are in a golden age of planetary research?