Planets beyond our solar system used to be something seen only in a science fiction movie. Now, they are abundant.
In its most recent observational campaign, Kepler telescope found 100 exoplanets, or planets in other solar systems. This adds to the previous total of more than 1,000 in Kepler’s original mission.
A brief history of Kepler spacecraft’s planet-hunting expedition goes as follows.
Kepler’s original mission operated from 2009-2013, which had the telescope zone in on stars just 500 to 1,000 light years away. Planets were discovered when a planet passed in front of the star during its orbit, thereby causing a faint dimming of starlight. But due to a malfunction in the telescope’s stabilizing reaction wheels, the mission was shut down.
Since then, scientists have found a way to revive the telescope, allowing the quest for new planets to continue. Basically, solar radiation was used to stabilize the telescope which had lost its wheels. With this remodeling the K2 mission—part two of the original mission—was launched. See below if you’re interested in specific details on how Kepler was stabilized.
The most recent finding is significant because before today, the K2 mission had officially confirmed 32 planets and identified over a hundred candidates, according to Gizmodo. Now, the planet stock has increased quite a bit.
Lastly, just some hype for potential habitation on one of these planets: