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10 NASA images of planets like Earth

July 17, 2012, 7:08 p.m.
Kepler, space, planet

Photo: NASA/Carter Roberts/Eastbay Astronomical Society

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Where are we looking?

Given the vastness of our galaxy, you would think the Kepler spacecraft would be sweeping every inch of the skies. However, due to mission constraints, Kepler is focused on one large area that includes the constellations Cygnus and Lyra. Here, we see this region. “Each rectangle indicates the specific region of the sky covered by each CCD (charged coupled devices) element of the Kepler photometer,” according to NASA. The Earth makes it difficult to observe all parts of the sky all year round, so the Kepler spacecraft is positioned above the ecliptic plane. Kepler can watch 100,000 stars simultaneously. The Cygnus and Lyra region was chosen because of its abundance of stars similar to our sun. The end goal? That we will find planets like Earth.