Archive for March 7th, 2009

Kepler takes off

March 7, 2009

In some good news for the week, the Kepler telescope can sent off to orbit into orbit Friday. This space craft will looking at a small section of our galaxy for possible signals of planets orbiting other stars.

Previous searches for planets used the wobble of a starcaused by gravitational pull to infer the presence of a planet. Although very cool, unfortunately, the current precision of such measurements allows only large Jovian sized planets to be discovered with this method. Kepler works by detecting a slight decrease in intensity of the light from the star as a planet passes in front of it. This gives a possibility for detecting smaller planets, possibly earth sized.

From the first link:

The spacecraft will point its unblinking eye at a patch of sky near the constellations Cygnus and Lyra, where it will scan some 100,000 stars for the telltale dip in brightness that signals a planet crossing in front of its parent star as seen from Earth. The tiny “wink” in light that Kepler is designed to measure with its 95 million-pixel camera is comparable to a person trying to watch a flea cross a car’s headlight from miles away, NASA officials have said.

Very cool.

Of course, why go to all this trouble? Since we know from astrology that the forces on us due to planetary influences are distance independent, teams of astrologers ought to be able to infer where all planets are from personality discrepancies or what not. They must already have been sitting on this information for hundreds of years.