Tag Archives: Kepler Space Telescope

Watch: The Milky Way as You’ve Never Seen It Before

In April 2018, the European Space Agency’s Gaia observatory released its second data catalog, which includes the distances to over 1.3 billion stars. In the video published by the American Museum of Natural History, museum’s astrophysicist Jackie Faherty breaks down why this information is so revolutionary and explains how this information is helping scientists and non-scientists alike understand the universe like never before.

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Want to Become a Citizen Scientist for NASA?

You can help NASA on some projects: for instance, citizen scientists helped NASA identify an aurora-related celestial phenomenon, now called STEVE. Want to become a citizen scientist? You can find projects on NASA website.
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Exoplanet Travel Bureau by NASA – Interactive 3D Images

Will we ever visit other stars? Maybe, in the distant future, if humans won’t become extinct, our grand grand … (insert a hundred or a thousand grands here) children can stand on an exoplanet’s surface someday. But, we don’t have to wait. NASA has opened a new web page, an “Exoplanet Travel Bureau”, and we can, at least, see the artists’ imaginations of what an exoplanet surface look like, based on available data. NASA warns, there are no actual images of the exoplanets, obviously. With interactive 3D images, it is still an exciting experience.

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Hubble Observes Atmospheres of TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets in the Habitable Zone

Good news for the search for extraterrestrial life: the TRAPPIST-1 System might be rich (very rich!) in water and all of the planets are mostly made of rock. Using data from NASA’s Spitzer and Kepler space telescopes, researchers calculated the densities of TRAPPIST-1 planets more precisely than ever, and they determined that all of the planets are mostly made of rock. Additionally, some have up to 5 percent of their mass in water, which is around 250 times more than the oceans on Earth. Researchers published their findings in a recent study in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics titled “The nature of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets” .

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Watch: An 8th Planet Orbiting a Distant Star was Discovered using Artificial Intelligence and Kepler data

Using data from exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope and machine learning algorithm from Google, researchers discovered an 8th planet orbiting a distant star. The newly discovered planet is circling Kepler-90, a G-type main sequence star (Sun-like star), 2,545 light years from Earth. It is named Kepler-90i.

According to the press release from NASA, Kepler-90i is “a sizzling hot, rocky planet that orbits its star once every 14.4 day. In this case, computers using Google’s machine learning algorithm, “learned” to identify planets by finding in Kepler data instances where the telescope recorded signals from planets beyond our solar system, known as exoplanets.

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Watch: How to tell if a planet harbors life?

Are we alone in the universe? Or are there any other “living planets” other than Earth? Until 1992, we even don’t know if there are any other planets around the other stars or not. In 1992, two Swiss astrophysicists, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz the first “exoplanet” (a planet orbiting another star than the Sun). Then discoveries continued. Especially after the launch of Kepler space telescope on March 7, 2009, which is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-size planets orbiting other stars, we quickly learned that our Solar System is not a rare phenomenon at all. As of November 2017, scientists have confirmed more than 3,500 exoplanets in more than 2,700 star systems. Now, the question is: are any of these planets (or the planets waiting to be discovered in the future) harbor life? If so, how we can find out? How to tell if a planet harbors life?

Currently, we have only one example: the Earth itself. Studying Earth and trying to figure out how we’d conclude the Earth harbors life from a distance (from space) can show us how to find out if a planet harbors life or not. Since 1997, NASA satellites have continuously observed all plant life at the surface of the land and ocean.

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How Earth Could Die – 8 Horrible Ways

Now we’re living on a warm, hospitable planet. As Carl Sagan has said “That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.” We, humans, are the unquestionable rulers of our little oasis in a hostile universe. But all things must pass. The life on Earth, even the planet itself, won’t last forever. What’s more, the humans may go extinct before our planet (and probably before the life on it) dies out. Here some possible (and horrible) ways how planet Earth could die.

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Are we the first?

In 1950, the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi was chatting with his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory(1). They talked about the recent rise in UFO reports, then the conversation shifted to other subjects. But during the lunch, Fermi suddenly asked: “Where is everybody?”. He was talking about the extraterrestrial life, especially intelligent life. He made some calculations on the probability of Earth-like planets, the beginning of life, the probability of intelligent life and high technology and concluded that we ought to have been visited long ago and many times over.

But, there is no reliable evidence aliens have visited Earth and we have observed no intelligent extraterrestrial life with current technology nor has SETI found any transmissions from other civilizations. The Universe, apart from the Earth, seems “dead”.

So, where is everybody?

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Earth 2.0: Kepler-452b

NASA’s space observatory Kepler may have discovered a possibly Earth-like planet, a rocky world orbiting a Sun-like star at almost the exact same distance Earth orbits our own Sun: Kepler-452b!

“The new Earth” is located 1,400 light-years from us. It orbits a Sun-like star that is 4% more massive and 10% brighter than our Sun. Kepler-452b is 1.6 times the size of Earth and the scientists are fairly sure that it is a rocky world.

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