Here’s #14 of my Digital Media Studies Master’s Project. Kepler is an orbital observatory sort of like Hubble, but with a very specific purpose — it’s a planet hunter. It trails behind us orbiting the sun and never wavers from looking at the same spot in the sky. There are thousands of stars in its field of view, and Kepler can detect minute changes in brightness caused by planets passing in front of some of those stars. Just last week it found the first Earth-sized planet located in the “habitable” zone around another star!
Fun fact: I always pictured Kepler in my head as something around the same size as Hubble, or around the size of the space shuttle’s payload bay. Turns out it’s a lot smaller! The main sensor is less than 1 meter in diameter, and the whole thing is only ~16 feet in length. Small but powerful!