Kepler's six years in science (and counting)
Whitney Clavin, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA’s Kepler: Six Years of Science. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA’s Kepler spacecraft began hunting for planets outside our solar system on May 12, 2009. Its mission was to survey a portion of our galaxy to determine what fraction of stars might harbor potentially habitable, Earth-sized exoplanets, or planets that orbit other stars. From these dimmings, or transits, and information about the parent star, researchers can determine a planet’s size (radius), the time it takes to orbit its star and the amount of energy received from the host star. The spacecraft continues to collect data in its new mission.