NASA will host a news briefing on Feb.2 at 10 a.m. PST 2 to announce the Kepler mission's latest findings about planets outside our solar system that may support life.
The briefing will be held in the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E St S.W. in Washington and carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.
The findings will throw light on hundreds of possible Exoplanets, which refers to planets outside our solar system and orbiting stars other than our Sun.
Kepler spacecraft, which was launched in March 2009, is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone, the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of the orbiting planet.
Kepler is detecting planets and planet candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help us better understand our place in the galaxy.
Kepler-10b is the first rocky planet the spacecraft has picked up.
On Jan. 10, astronomers have discovered Kepler-10b, the smallest planet outside our solar system. It is about 560 light-years away, and has a surface temperature hotter than molten iron.
On Aug. 27, Kepler spacecraft has discovered first confirmed planetary system with two giant, distinct planets crossing in front of the same star.
Key Facts About Kepler Mission
-- The Kepler Mission is a NASA space observatory designed to discover Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. The mission is named in honor of German astronomer Johannes Kepler.
-- The spacecraft was launched on March 7, 2009 aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The mission's planned lifetime is least 3.5 years.
-- The mission's life-cycle cost is estimated at $600 million, including funding for 3.5 years of operation.
-- Kepler is a mission under NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, focused science missions.
-- Ames Research Center manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California managed Kepler mission development.
-- Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. was responsible for developing the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
-- The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data.
-- The Kepler mission's first main result announced on January 4, 2010. Among the notable results are one of the least dense planets yet found, and two low-mass white dwarf stars that were initially reported as being members of a new class of stellar objects.
-- Kepler uses a photometer developed by NASA to continuously monitor the brightness of over 145,000 main sequence stars in a fixed field of view.
-- Most of the extrasolar planets, exoplanets, detected so far by other projects are giant planets, mostly the size of Jupiter and bigger. Kepler is designed to look for planets 30 to 600 times less massive, closer to the order of Earth's mass (Jupiter is 318 times more massive than Earth).
-- Kepler is not in an Earth orbit but in an Earth-trailing solar orbit so that Earth does not occlude the stars which are observed continuously and the photometer is not influenced by stray light from Earth.