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Kepler: One Year Anniversary
NASA's Kepler spacecraft has successfully completed the first year of its mission to search for Earth-like planets in our galaxy.
(Pop of champagne bottle / Cheers)
To celebrate the occasion, Kepler team members gathered at Ames' Exploration Center. Here they spent the evening sharing memories of the first year's milestones and discoveries.
Bill Borucki, Principal Investigator, Kepler Mission:
It's been the greatest year of my life. We have produced so much new science, we have found some many candidate planets. It’s just been wonderful to see all the results come out of this mission.
Zero and we have liftoff of the Delta-2 rocket with Kepler.
Kepler was launched March 6th, 2009 from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a dramatic nighttime display. Just a few weeks later on April 16th, the first set of images taken by the spacecraft were released. They showed its complete search area near the constellation Lyra. The composite image of unprecedented detail demonstrated that all 42 CCD photo sensors were working as designed. By August of 2009, Kepler's first science results were announced. The telescope's sensors had detected properties of the atmosphere around a distant planet called Hat-P7b. In January of 2010, Principal Investigator Bill Borucki revealed that Kepler had discovered 5 previously unknown planets.
What we’re looking for is even more exciting discoveries. We’re now beginning to find the small planets, the planets that are like the Earth. We still haven’t found them in the habitable zone, but these are the discoveries that are coming in the next couple of years.
Because Kepler Team members are spread around the world, the event was a rare opportunity to renew friendships and celebrate the year's events. But they are just as excited about discoveries yet to come.
Natalie Batalha, Co-Investigator, Kepler Mission:
In this first year, we’ve only skimmed the cream off the top. We're only just beginning. We have some many things to look forward to. So, I'm really am starting to get into that mode of, you know, really exploring and discovering new worlds. That’s our objective, that’s why we’re here.
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