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Kepler Mission Could Detect Exomoons

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    Last Updated: September 5, 2009


    Lord Northern writes “According to several news sources, NASA’s Kepler mission is said to be able to detect habitable moons orbiting planets in other star systems. Kepler is a space telescope designed to detect exoplanets. Its mission will have it orbiting the Sun for 3.5 years, after which we’ll be able to tell if any of our neighboring stars actually have planetary systems around them. However, apparently we will be able to detect not only exoplanets, but also exomoons orbiting those exoplanets. The Kepler team came to that conclusion after running a computer simulation which found that the telescope was sensitive enough to detect the gravitational pull of an orbiting moon (PDF). This means that the data expected by the end of the mission is going to be very rich, and it is said that moons as small as 0.2 times the mass of earth could be detected. Further details about the Kepler mission are available from NASA.”

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