Saturday, October 03, 2009
The discovery of a second Earth is a recurring subject here so I won't write too much on this, but NASA has said that the discovery of a second Earth could happen anytime now. It could be through COROT, or Kepler, or Earth-bound observatories or a combination of the first and the third.
As for Kepler, remember that its mission began on 12 May, so that would be 144 days. Since Kepler needs three observations to confirm a discovery that means it could have discovered planets with orbital periods of up to 40 days or so thus far (technically it would be a bit more since the first observation could happen as soon as the mission began but let's be cautious with the calculation), but then tack on however long it takes for the preparations for the discovery to be announced. This means we may hear about an Earth-like planet orbiting a red dwarf star this year. I suppose it would depend on the effectiveness of the telescope itself - Kepler hasn't yet announced any discoveries though it has re-discovered a planet we already knew about as a test.
Any day now...