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MSRAL 2006 Convention

SLAS Regular Meeting
Friday, February 20, 2015 7:30pm
McDonnell Hall, Washington University

Hunting For Alien Planets – NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft Mission

William Hayden Smith
Washington University

In March, 2009, NASA launched the Kepler Spacecraft – a 55-inch wide space telescope designed to search for planets around other stars. Kepler detects possible planets by the dimming of the parent star as the planet passes in front of it, blocking some of the starlight. Earth-based telescopes or the Hubble Space Telescope then follow up to confirm the discoveries. Of the more than 5,000 planet candidates detected by Kepler, over 1,000 have been confirmed so far. Dr. Smith will talk about the Kepler spacecraft, how it detects possible planets, and how it was rescued from termination after an equipment failure and given a second planet-hunting mission.

Dr. William H. Smith is Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences and a Fellow of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences at Washington University. His research projects involve the design and development of opto-mechanical remote sensing instruments for spacecraft and research aircraft, climate change studies, and the development of medical diagnostics for long-term spacecraft missions.


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