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NASA To Announce Alien Life?

| by Reve Fisher
An artist's rendition of KeplerAn artist's rendition of Kepler

NASA will hold a conference on May 10 to discuss the findings made by the organization’s Kepler space telescope, which is exciting both conspiracy theorists and scientists alike.

The Kepler mission was established in order to determine the prevalence of planets similar to Earth throughout the Milky Way, according to Space.com.

Launched in March 2009 and named after 17th century German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, the project has discovered over 1,000 alien planets and 3,600 planet "candidates." 

By taking note of the “tiny brightness dips” displayed when they cross the face of their host stars, Kepler is able to locate alien worlds. However, this method requires advanced, precise pointing capabilities, which Kepler unfortunately lost when its second orientation-maintaining reaction wheel failed in May 2013.

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Although that letdown brought Kepler’s original planet search to an end, the mission’s team discovered a way to stabilize the equipment with the two remaining wheels, which led to a new mission in 2014 known as K2.

According to the Daily Mail, K2 continues the quest for exoplanets while presenting new research opportunities to discover supernovae, asteroids and other phenomena in 90-day-long “campaigns.”

In 2015, the project discovered what has been described as Earth’s "closest twin" outside the solar system, the first detected supernova with visible light, rocks located within the habitable region of another start, and a dimming pattern coming from a distant star.

In April, the mission underwent an emergency state as NASA temporarily lost touch with the spacecraft, but was able to relocate it online.

"Mission operations engineers have successfully recovered the Kepler spacecraft from Emergency Mode (EM)," NASA stated after the incident, according to the Daily Mail. "The mission has cancelled the spacecraft emergency, returning the Deep Space Network ground communications to normal scheduling."

As Kepler is about 75 million miles away from Earth, it can be challenging to attend to various problems with the spacecraft.

"Even at the speed of light, it takes 13 minutes for a signal to travel to the spacecraft and back," mission manager Charlie Sobeck said.

Presenters at the news conference include Paul Hertz, director of the astrophysics division at NASA headquarters, and Timothy Morton, associate research scholar at Princeton University. It will be streamed live from the NASA website at 1 p.m. EDT.

Sources: Space, Daily Mail / Photo Credit: NASA via Space.com

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