Exoplanet hunter Kepler set for new mission
There is some good news for space research enthusiasts. NASA's Kepler spacecraft is back in action, a year after suffering an equipment failure.
The US space agency has approved a new mission called 'K2' for Kepler.
"The approval provides two years of funding for the K2 mission to continue exoplanet discovery, and introduces new scientific observation opportunities to observe notable star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies, and supernovae," Kepler deputy project manager Charlie Sobeck said in a statement.
During the K2 mission, Kepler will stare at target fields in the plane of Earth's orbit, known as the ecliptic, during observing campaigns that last about 75 days each.
Kepler finds alien worlds by noting the tiny brightness dips caused when the planets cross in front of their parent stars from the instrument's perspective.
The Kepler mission has detected more than 3,800 potential exoplanets to date.
Mission scientists expect more than 90 percent of the mission's candidate planets will turn out to be the real deal.
(Posted on 18-05-2014)