Kepler is #4 in Discover Magazines Top 100 Stories of 2011
In addition to Kepler being #4 in Discover's Top 100 Stories, a study done by Kepler team member, Jason Steffen, is #82 in the list. It is a study on boarding passengers on airliners
Excerpt from the Jan/Feb 2012 Discover magazine pages about Kepler: …careful analysis of the early data coming from Kepler alarmed astronomers in 2010. There was too much noise in the system and distinguishing planets from other variations in the data was a harder task than expected. If mission scientists couldn't determine the cause of the problem and fix it, the project could be in trouble.
"…There were multiple possibilities," recalls Ronald Gilliland, a Kepler coinvestigator at the Space Telescope Science Institute and a member of the team. "One was that the software that analyzes the data might not be up to snuff. Another was the the spacecraft itself was not performing as well as it should. The third possibility was that the stars themselves were more variable than we expected."
Gilliland hoped it was the software, because that was here on Earth and could be fixed....
…The Kepler software checked out. …Kepler [spacecraft] also checked out; it was operating normally. That left only the third possibility: The fault lay in the stars. …Kepler taught [astronomers] something new. On average, starlight appeared to vary twice as much as sunlight. "Kepler is rewriting the textbooks," Gilliland says. That was an important scientific finding but an ominous turn for the mission.
…Kepler has to make more observations to complete its survey of its little patch of sky. It can still do what it's supposed to do, but it needs more time. …about eight years to complete what was originally planned to be a 3.5-year mission....
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