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Delta launches Kepler mission
Posted: Sat, Mar 7, 2009, 9:52 AM ET (1452 GMT)
Delta 2 launch of Kepler (NASA/KSC) A Delta 2 rocket successfully launched NASA's Kepler spacecraft, a mission to search for Earth-like planets around other stars. The Delta 2 rocket lifted off on scheduled at 10:49 pm EST Friday (0349 GMT Saturday) and injected the Kepler spacecraft into an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit about an hour later. The spacecraft, part of NASA's Discovery Program of relatively low-cost science missions, will monitor over 100,00- stars continuously for over three years, looking for slight, periodic decreases in brightness caused when planets orbiting the star pass through the line of sight between the star and spacecraft. Astronomers hope this technique will allow them to discover planets much smaller than previously detected, including worlds with similar sizes and orbits as the Earth.
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