The Search for a New Earth
The search for intelligent life marches on with Nasa recently launching its groundbreaking new Kepler Telescope from Cape Canaveral this past March.
The Kepler telescope was designed to find extrasolar planets with characteristics similar to Earth's, including size, distance from their sun, and duration of their orbit. Essentially, NASA is not only looking to see if we're alone in the universe, but also whether or not there are planets we can potentially migrate to in the future.
While most deep-space telescopes use Doppler-shift technology to detect stars (where stars tremble slightly due to the gravitational pull of planets), Kepler uses optic-technology to observe the dimming of a star, which occurs when a planet comes between it and Kepler's line of sight. This will make Kepler more useful in detecting smaller, more hospitable planets, which up to now have been almost impossible to find.
Though more than 300 exoplanets have been found, almost none contain the necessary characteristics to harbor life. Scientists are hoping that this will change with Kepler.
Creative Commons Image: "Leave It To Me To Find This Image on Nasa Files." by Helder.