Therehas been a quest for the search a second habitable planet fordecades. The NASA Kepler mission revived this quest with thediscovery of numerous habitable terrestrial bodies. Information inregard to the discovery of habitable terrestrial bodies has beenexpanding each day. The biggest challenged has been to find aterrestrial body that can sustain liquid water, as well as human life(Wallace, 2010). The Kepler mission was aimed at finding habitableterrestrial bodies in the Milky Way galaxy region, which is believedto be close enough to the region that is habitable. This mission waslaunched in 2009 and there were hopes that terrestrial bodies thatresembled the earth in terms of climate and size could be found thatcould be habitable to humans (Wallace, 2010). wasgiven this name in respect to Johannes Kepler who was a Germanastronomer6. He was born more than 400 years ago in 1571. He was agreat mathematician. He contributed a lotin the discovery of theplanets. During his time it was believed that there were only sixplanets. Among his great contribution in the science e of astronomywas when he established andpublished three laws on the planetarymotion in 1609. These included
Theplant sweep some sections of equal areas using equal intervals oftime when they orbit. They travel slower when they are far away fromthe sun and faster when they are closer to the sun. At one focus, theorbits of the planets are elliptical with the sun. The distance of aplanet from the sun is related on the time it takes in going roundthe planet (Chela Flores, 2011).
Theabove laws that were introduced by Johannes Kepler have gone a longway in helping the astronomer in the NASA to advance his mission. Alot has been discovered since then including more and more planets and more so the possibility of another life in these planets. In bthis connection, more has been concentrated in the study on the MilkyWay Galaxy and the relationship that thatvexisit6s in thisastronomical system. One of the Kepler’s observations aboutplanetary movements was that the planets were not moving inacircular motion rather as it was widely believed. His discovery wasthat planets followed an elliptical paths. Kepler’s laws have beenused by astronomers in calculating the orbits of comets and asteroidswhich are newly been discovered. These laws are also used indetermining the paths on the interplanetary space area (Shipmanet al, 2011).
NASAKepler’s Discovery of Earth Size Planet in the Milky Way Galaxy
Inthe year 2009, NASA established Kepler. This is a very advancetelescope which is designed to detect planets that are almost thesame as earth in the space. This is where the NASA Kepler missionoriginated from. The mission of this technology was the search forhabitable planet. This was adventure was dubbed the Kepler mission(Wallace, 2010). From the first forty three days of analyzing theKepler’s data, astronomers were able to discover at least 700‘candidates of which they could focus their research on. It onlytook the team about one year for them to announce a break through o0fdiscovering a solar system. This solar system consisted of twoplanets which were seen to transit the same star. The planets weregiven names of Kepler-9b and 9c (Wallace, 2010). This came after ananalysisof about 156,000 stars, which took the NASA team aboutseven months. This was the first discovery of NASA Keplerof aplanetary system which consisted of more than one planet orbiting thesame star.
However,one of the latest discoveries was that of theKepler-186f. This was announced by the NASA researchers as the majordiscovery of an earth-sized planet which was believed to behabitable. It was so convincing to them that there was probability ofexistence of life in this planet, therefore, being the same as theearth. This was considered one of the most crucial breakthrough bythe NASA researchers (Wallace, 2010). The previous discoveries werelarger in size than the earth. They also wanted to determine if therewere any extra-terrestrial life in this planet. It is believed to beabout 490 light years away from the earth. It was deemed to be theclosest discovery that the astronomers have ever come close to. Theplanet is also believed to be around another and more so habitable.This was contended by the NASA Institute of Search forExtraterrestrialIntelligence (SETI) (Shipmanet al, 2011). This is one of the primary goals of Kepler’s telescope- findinghabitable planets similar to the earth.
Thishas been seen to tremendously boost future investigations on theexoplanets which Kepler believed to have extra-terrestrialenvironments. This was according to the institute. The time was notwasted after this discovery, where was done to determine if therewere any emissions from the planet. This emissions could show thepresence of the extra-terrestrials. However, no emissions werediscovered by then (Shipmanet al, 2011).
Thesize of this planet was seen to be larger than the earth by 10%.However, it is believed to be roughly of the same size as that of theearth. In addition, the planet’s distance from its star does notmake for any interesting factoids. This is one of the factors thathave made scientists believe that the planet could sustain life aswell. There are more than 1,800 exoplanets which have beendiscovered. Among these, twenty of them do orbit their stars aroundzones that are believed to be habitable. This can be supported by thefact that earlier on in 2011, NASA team had announced thatKeplerhad discovered about five planets which are in habitable zones (Dick& Strick, 2012). These planets are believed to be larger than theEarth. The augment behind the habitability of Kepler-186f was becauseof the dimming observations seen coming from starlight (Evans &Harland, 2011). The institute went on to point out that the planetswhich are the size of Kepler-186f, are likely to have somecompositions of rock, Ice and iron, the same as earth.
Despitethe fact that planet is rocky, it might not be habitable at the sametime. This is because it depends on the atmosphere. This has beenpointed out by some scientists. There has also been some argument onthe same subject the star’s size is believed to be M-dwarf star,which is less hot and smaller than the sun (Dick & Strick, 2012).It is therefore argued that its size could make it a habitable. Thismeans that the radiation from the sun could preventlife to exist.This is, especially the case, if the atmosphere could not be denseenough to prevent the sun’s radiations.
ThisKepler-186f planet, was found through the use of Kepler`s camerawhich is able to have ultra-precise measurements. The light from theplanets as they orbit the stars radiates from the dips of this cameravery slightly (Dick & Strick, 2012). It is at this point that thescientist detects and measures the masses of a planet. At the sametime, besides the use of this camera, there are also observationswhich were made from stations on the ground such as the Hawaii’sW.M. Keck Observatory. These stations are used to refine thefindings.
Contributionof this discovery to the understanding of the solar system.
Thediscovery of this planet along the Milky Way Galaxy is a great steptowards astronomical science. It has made a lot to scientists tothink much harder on how to come up with more advanced technologiesto be able to detect images in the dwarf stars which are beingdiscovered. A good example is the construction of the Webb spacebased telescope. This is believed to be able to collect images fromcloser dwarf stars. At the same time, this could help in studyingtheir atmosphere (Evans & Harland, 2011). It has made scientistto concentrate more on researching of dwarf stars since the planetwhich surround them, and are habitable can be detected in an easyway. The other reason is because these types of stars are many in ourgalaxy.
Thisdiscovery has also brought closer the probability of long awaitedresults of habitable environments in the other planets. Althoughthere have been many arguments againstthe fact that life could beexisting in this planet, but the probability has been raised a notchhigher (Evans & Harland, 2011). The sure way of determining thiscould beafter the introduction of the Webb space based telescopewhich could assist in taking images from these planets. This couldeased the astronomers’ work. It has therefore brought to theforefront that there is a challenge of detection. The difficulty ofdetection have been contributed by the fact that these planets donot generate any light, but instead reflect only a small portion ofthe light which comes from the nearest star.
Thescientists have also aided in the understanding of the maindifferences between the universe, solar system and the galaxy system.This is actually one the most important aspects about science ofastronomy. This discovery helped to open up the minds of numerouspeople who may not be understanding science behind these threesystems (Evans & Harland, 2011). A good example is the solarsystems which consists of the star and all the objects that surroundit such as the sun.
Wallace,L. E. (2010). Flightsof discovery: 60 years at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.Washington, D.C., NASA History Office.
Evans,B., & Harland, D. M. (2011). NASA`sVoyager missions: exploring the outer solar system and beyond.London, Springer.
Shipman,J. T., Wilson, J. D., & Higgins, C. A. (2013). Anintroduction to physical science.Boston, MA, Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.
Angelo,J. A. (2009). TheFacts on File dictionary of space technology.New York, Facts on File.
Dick,S. J., & Strick, J. E. (2012). Theliving universe: NASA and the development of astrobiology. NewBrunswick, N.J, Rutgers University Press.
ChelaFlores, J. (2011). Thescience of astrobiology: a personal view on learning to read the book of life.Dordrecht, Springer.