Kepler's specific objectives over its 4-year lifetime are to determine: (a) the frequency of Earth-class and larger planets in and near the habitable zone of a wide variety of spectral types of stars; (b) the distribution of diameter and orbital size of Earth-class planets; (c) the distribution of diameter, mass, density, albedo, and orbital size of giant inner planets; (d) the frequency of planets orbiting multiple star systems; and (e) the properties of those stars that have planetary systems.
Kepler's main instrument is a 1-meter aperture photometer with a 12° field of view which will continuously and simultaneously monitor the light from 90,000 main sequence stars brighter than 14th magnitude in a star field in Cygnus. Planets will be discovered and characterized by the tiny periodic variations their transits cause in a star's measured light output. Detection of two transits will be taken as evidence of a candidate planet with a third and subsequent transits providing confirmation.
Quick facts about Kepler from JPL
External linkKepler home page (NASA Ames)
Related category SATELLITES AND SPACE PROBES
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