Ke­pler’s first plan­ets

What hap­pened: Ke­pler finds its first worlds When it hap­pened: April 2009

All About Space - - Kepler’s Best Bits -

Shortly af­ter launch­ing on 7 March 2009, Ke­pler spent 67 days in a com­mis­sion­ing phase, check­ing that its in­stru­ments worked to find dis­tant worlds. It would do this by look­ing for the dip in light of dis­tant stars as plan­ets passed in front, known as the tran­sit method, but sci­en­tists weren’t sure how suc­cess­ful this method would be.

In April 2009 it de­tected its first ex­o­planet, called TrES-2b. The planet, 1.2-times the size of Jupiter and 750 light years away, had been pre­vi­ously dis­cov­ered, but Ke­pler’s de­tec­tion of it proved the tele­scope would be able to find other plan­ets, earn­ing TrES-2b the ad­di­tional moniker of Ke­pler-1b.

In Au­gust 2009 NASA an­nounced Ke­pler had con­firmed the ex­is­tence of the known planet, HATP-7b, lo­cated 1,100 light years from Earth and about 1.5-times the size of Jupiter. Again a re­de­tec­tion, the sen­si­tiv­ity in­volved in find­ing this planet proved the tele­scope would be able find Earth-like worlds be­yond the So­lar Sys­tem, if they ex­isted. Fol­low­ing these ini­tial de­tec­tions Ke­pler would be­gin its pri­mary mis­sion in May 2009 last­ing three-anda-half years, which changed the field of ex­o­planet sci­ence for­ever with the dis­cov­ery of thou­sands of worlds, some of which were in­deed Earth-like.

Ke­pler's field of view

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