May 13, 2009 | 4
The Kepler spacecraft, launched by NASA in March to look for cousins of Earth—those planets around other stars that have the right conditions for life—is now on the job. The spacecraft is in position, trailing Earth in an orbit around the sun, and has completed a tune-up of its instruments.
"Now the fun begins," Kepler principal investigator Bill Borucki of the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said in a statement. "We are all really excited to start sorting through the data and discovering the planets."
Apr 10, 2009 | 4
As the hunt for Earth-size planets around other stars ratchets up, some researchers are already investigating how to test those planets for habitability once they are found.
A team of U.S. and Australian scientists reports successfully testing an approach that could be used to look for water on so-called extrasolar planets, or exoplanets. The researchers tried out their technique, described this week in a paper submitted to arxiv.org to be published in Astrobiology, on the only Earth-like planet we know of: Earth.
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