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Countdown To NASA's Kepler Mission

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the strange-new-worlds dept.

Space 27

Adam Korbitz writes "NASA's planet-hunting Kepler mission is set to launch late on the evening of March 6th. A few days ago, the space telescope arrived in Florida for final launch preparations. According to the NASA/JPL Planet Quest website: 'Kepler will hunt for planets using a specialized one-meter diameter telescope called a photometer to measure the small changes in brightness caused by the transits. Over a four-year period, Kepler will continuously view an amount of sky about equal to the size of a human hand held at arm's length or about equal in area to two "scoops" of the sky made with the Big Dipper constellation.' A map of the area Kepler will search is shown superimposed on a picture of the constellation Cygnus, The Swan. NASA has posted a countdown clock for Kepler, as well as animations of the spacecraft mission and the science objectives."

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yet anothr waste of the tax payer money... (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407065)

you'd better bailout larry flynt the billions he needs, morons!

makes you realize just how good Hubble is (4, Interesting)

pines225 (1413303) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407075)

The statistic about "an amount of sky about equal to the size of a human hand held at arm's length" didn't stir me one way or t'other. But the article then says that Hubble can view the amount of sky equal to a grain of sand held at arms length. Makes you realise just how good the resolution Hubble's resolution is - all those amazing pictures of galaxies and nebulae are details that would be covered by such a tiny angular field.

Re:makes you realize just how good Hubble is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26407389)

If galaxies and nebulae were the angular size of a human hand held at arm's length, then we would just fucking see them every night with our naked eyes, so of course they must be smaller.

Re:makes you realize just how good Hubble is (4, Informative)

root_42 (103434) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407793)

If galaxies and nebulae were the angular size of a human hand held at arm's length, then we would just fucking see them every night with our naked eyes, so of course they must be smaller.

Absolutely not true. While many distant galaxies and several planetary nebulae seem to be pretty small from down here, most of the nearer galaxies and a lot of nebulae subtend quite a big angular size. The problem is that their radiosity is not bright enough for us to see them with the naked eye. But for example the andromeda galaxy is nearly the size of three full moons. However, with the naked eye under a dark sky, you can only see it's core as a smoky patch on the sky. Hundreds of other galaxies and nebulae are visible even in small telescopes. Especially non-planetary nebulae and some of the nearer galaxies are in fact so big that you tend to watch them at 20-50x magnification through an amateur telescope. As a comparision: Most planetary nebulae, as most planets, only reveal their details at 100-200x magnification.

Re:makes you realize just how good Hubble is (2, Informative)

mad_robot (960268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407835)

Did you know the Andromeda Galaxy covers something like 7 times the apparent width of the moon [] ?

CCD Arrangment (4, Interesting)

Neuropol (665537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407101)

How cool. They matched the CCD arrangment in order to macth the most effective pattern of target stars for corevage and efficientcy:

from the article: "The squares show the FOV of each of the 21 CCD modules. Each is 5 sq deg. Note that the gaps between the CCD modules are aligned so that about half of the 15 stars in the FOV brighter than mv=6 fall in these gaps."

Countdown to blastoff? about 4 hours (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26407281)

* 1 Case Regular Pint size Mason Jars ( Used for canning)
* 2 Boxes Contact 12 hour time released tablets.
* 3 Bottles of Heet.
* 4 feet of surgical tubing.
* 1 Bottle of Rubbing Alchohol.
* 1 Gallon Muriatic Acid ( Used for cleaning concrete)
* 1 Gallon of Coleman's Fuel
* 1 Gallon of Aceton
* 1 Pack of Coffee Filters
* 1 Electric Skillet ( If you don't know what iam talking about i will have pics later)
* 4 Bottles Iodine Tincture 2% (don't get the declorized it won't work)
* 2 Bottles of Hydrogen peroxide
* 3 20 0z Coke Bottles (Plastic type)(with Lids/caps)
* 1 Can Red Devils Lye
* 1 Pair of sharp scissors
* 4 Boxes Book Matches (try to get the ones with brown/red striker pads)
* 1 pyrodex baking dish
* 1 Box execto razor blades single sided
* 1 digital scale that reads grams
* 2 gallons distilled water \
* 1 Roll Aluminum foil tape

That's what you would have to go buy if you wanted to make meth.

First things first -- the Iodine Crystals. Take one 20 oz, plastic Coke Bottle and pour 4 Bottles 2% tincture into it.

Add Hydrogen Peroxide to this. Use only 1/2 a bottle of Hydrogen peroxide. After this you know, the gallon jug that the Muriatic acid comes in take the cap off and fill this cap level with the acid. Add the acid to the coke bottle (Place in a freezer for at least 30 mins).

While the Iodine crystals are being made we are going to extract the Phsuedo from the Contacts. You are going to need a towel for this so go get one. Take the pills out of one box, add it to one of the mason jars fill with rubbing alchohol just enough to cover the pills let set for 3 minutes. Remove pills and take the towel and wipe the top coating off the pills this will remove the wax. Do the same with the other box of Contacts as well, after this add those wiped off pills only 10 to a clean mason jar. On top of this add 1 bottle of Heat do the same for the other box of Contact. Let theese two mason jars with pills, heat stand for 30 minutes. Then shake the jars till pills are completly broke down then let the jars sit again for 4 hours or until the Heats is completly clear . Once clear cyphon the heat off (Not the powder stuff at the Bottom you don't want this it will fuck your dope up).

Well anyway syphon the heat off with a piece of the sergical tubing syphon this into a pyrodex baking dish place in microwave on high till the heat is almost evaporated. Take out of microwave. Now plug up your electric plate set the pyrodex dish on this on about 180 deg continue evaporating till you get a white powder on the pyrodex (Carefull not the burn the phsudo if it turns yellow it's burned) after you get it dried take a razor blade and scrape this powder up. (put this asside for later use)

Now we are going to get the red phosphorus from the book matches take a pair of scissors and cut along the edge of the phosphorus do the whole four boxes of match book matches then take 1 small coffee cup will work to this coffee cup add about 1/4 the way with Acetone dip the match book strike pads into the acetone for 10 seconds this will loosen the phosphorus so it will be easier to scrape with the razor blades. ( put the phosphorus in an empty match book box to let dry. Now it's time to get the iodine crystals get a clean mason jar on top of this place 1 coffee filter and pour the contents of the iodine +muriatic+Hydrogen Peroxide into the filter ( do it slowly don't over pour) well once you get though with the filtering on top of the coffee filter will be a black substance ( This is iodine crystals) dry them by wraping in more coffee filters till you get a pretty good thick pile around the original filter place on ground and step on it to get the rest of the liquids off save this for the cook.

next take your digital scales wiegh your pills first say you had 2 grams of pill powder then weigh out an equal amount of iodine crystals then for the phosphorus devide the total weight of pills by 3 3 will go into 2 1 time so if you had 2 grams pill powder you should have 2 grams iodine crystal 1 gram phosphorus Now its time to make the cook jars you will need 2 clean mason jars with lids 1 foot surgical tubing poke a hole in both jar lids place one end of the tubing into each jar lid and seal with foil tape (buy this at walmart for about $ 1.60 well anyway seal off the tubes as well as you can so you should have 2 mason jars with lids that have surgical tubing foiled taped and sealed. ok this is the cook in one mason jar add distilled water in it fill it half way close the lid on it. now get you hotplate hot first at 180 degreese F when the plate get hot then its time to add the Iodine+pill powder to the other mason jar not the one with water in it once you get both Iodine and pill powder to the jar add 6-10 drops of distilled water to this place it on the hotplate now add the phosphorus once you put this in the jar there is going to be a imediatereaction place the other lid with hose onto the jar screw on tightly then turn your hotplate up to 400 degrees f let this cook for 1 hour to an hour and a half the best way to tell when it is done is when the contents of the cook jar doesn't boil anymore once this has happened turn the hotplate off and let the jar cool so you can touch it now its time to see if we have dope once it has cooled open the lid and you should smell rotten egg like smell if it has this smell congrads you have dope now we have to remove the dope from the black goey substance to this jar add about 1/4 cup of distilled water and seal the jar with a lid that has no holes in it and shake the jar till all the substance on the botom of the jar has come off into the water

next take another clean mason jar and place a coffee filter and filter the cook jars contents though the filter now on the filter is your phosphorus save this for another cook later on just putt it in a dry coffee filter and put it somewhere dry and safe now you have a jar filled with a yellow honey looking substance if its this color you have done good at cooking the dope now to this add colemans fuel fill the jar about full just leave anough room for shaking now add 1-2 table spoons red devil lye let the jar sit for about 5 mins then place lid on the jar and shake the hell out of it then sit the jar somewhere to rest for about 30 mins Now we are going to pull the dope out of the coleman fuel and the product is going to be 90% methamphetamine to do this fallow what i say exactly syphon the coleman fuel into an empty 20 oz coke bottle syphon off much as you can trying not to get the substance off the bottom of the jar once you have the coleman fuel in the coke bottle add about 4-6 coke bottle caps of water to this now add one drop of muriatic acid to the coke bottle place lid on bottle and shake the hell out of it place upside down so it want fall and get your hotplate hot 400 degrees f on top of the hotplate place a clean pyrodex bowl on it now take the coke bottle still upside down and loosen up on the cap let the water drain into the pan don't get any coleman fuel into the pyrodex bowl now the water will evaporate while it is doing this take a coffee cup add acetone to it fill it 1/4 the way up now once the water has dried on the plate take plate off with gloves and add a small amount of acetone to the pyrodex bowl it will sizzle swirl it arouund and if all works out good ther will be cirle crystals all over the pyrodex bowl scrape up with a razor and enjoy Methamphetamine :-) This with 2 boxes of Contacts will make anywhere from 2-3 grams meth....

Kepler uses NinnleBSD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26407341)

The boffins at NASA have implemented a version of NinnleBSD to power this mission. There will be success.

Likelihood of transits? (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407531)

Just out of curiosity, aren't there better things to look for than planets transiting the stars they orbit? I mean, obviously, since we have already observed it (right?), then it does happen, but how common can that be? I mean, what are the chances that the plane of the elliptic of a given star system will be edge on towards us? Just curious...

Re:Likelihood of transits? (2, Interesting)

Gibbs-Duhem (1058152) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407581)

180 degrees to choose from, say it has to be within .18 degrees from planer with the earth, and you get a 0.1% chance of a random star having the orbital plane of planets coplanar with us.

Now multiply by the number of stars in the field of view (\infty), and you get an infinite number of stars will potentially show this effect.

Re:Likelihood of transits? (4, Informative)

thasmudyan (460603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407617)

The usual method for finding planets is looking for the "wobble" they cause as they displace their parent star through gravitational interaction while orbiting them. However, this is only suitable for really big planets.

Now, the observation of the transition moment offers a chance to see earth-sized planets, and quite possibly some additional data about their atmospheric composition can be gathered through spectroscopy.

This mission will give us some important data on the properties of the smaller extrasolar planets. The only problem is that by far not every system that has planets will have them cross directly in front of the star from our perspective. So we can't use that to have a thorough look at the really interesting systems close to our own, for example.

Re:Likelihood of transits? (1)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 5 years ago | (#26407711)

I mean, what are the chances that the plane of the elliptic of a given star system will be edge on towards us?

From the article,

Kepler must monitor many thousands of stars simultaneously, since the chance of any one planet being aligned along the line-of-sight is only about 1/2 of a percent.

Since it can monitor thousands at a time, it is very likely that there are several likely suspects in its field of view at any one time.

Re:Likelihood of transits? (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409341)

I mean, obviously, since we have already observed it (right?)

Yep; in fact there was a thread last month [] about a guy where I work doing this - but with a terrestrial telescope.

MOST (3, Informative)

XNormal (8617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408141)

This concept was pioneered in the canadian MOST [] (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars) mission. MOST is a suitcase-sized satellite build on a modest budget but still achieved some significant scientific results [] . Kepler follows in its footsteps with a larger and more powerful implementation.

The software architect for MOST is Henry Spencer []

Re:MOST - live with Dr. Matthews (3, Interesting)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26409219)

I attended a talk by Jaymie Matthews last night on MOST and some of the very cool things they've found out with it.

He argued that historians 400 years from now will look back on our time as a time of great scientific progress, just as we look back on Galileo's time 400 years ago. In 30 years we have gone from a general relativity universe made of matter and energy to an accelerating universe made of mostly dark matter and dark energy. While we have our suspicions on dark matter, we don't have a clue (yet) on dark energy.

We are studying the universe in unprecedented detail and learning new things about it, but we are finding new mysteries too. Almost makes me want to go back to school and be a part of it.


Two Scoops of Raisins (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408265)

...amount of sky ... about equal in area to two "scoops" of the sky made with the Big Dipper constellation.'

I don't remember that metric in my Astronomy textbook. Didn't Kellogg's Raisin Bran invent that metric?

Re:Two Scoops of Raisins (2, Funny)

Eudial (590661) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408891)

Ah, a sky-scoop is 10^16 square beard seconds

Hand held at arm's length or two scoops of dipper? (1)

NinthAgendaDotCom (1401899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26408397)

Okay, but what is that in real units of measurement, like Libraries of Congress?

Re:Hand held at arm's length or two scoops of dipp (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26410009)

Oh goodness me!

This is three knotty ropes, which is the same as a quarter mule's kicked bucket, which is the same as a spilled beer's smell range, which is of course a tenth of the range of ten small children's screams which in turn are around half a busy intersection in the morning - which everyone knows is around a quarter of a Library of Congress.

Really, did it need to be drawn out in that much detail?

Re:Hand held at arm's length or two scoops of dipp (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26412439)

That's 0.82 Libraries of Congress seen from the top of the Capitol. Or 0.0073 Libraries of Congress held at arm's length if you prefer.

Re:Hand held at arm's length or two scoops of dipp (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26415139)

FYI, the site in your sig is currently flagged by Firefox as a "reported attack site".

Re:Hand held at arm's length or two scoops of dipp (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26415189)

Damnit, it keeps getting hacked, no idea what's wrong with's hosting...

Re:Hand held at arm's length or two scoops of dipp (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26415329)

Probably my fault for using plain old FTP to upload.. I'm a noob with web stuff, hopefully changing the password and sticking to SFTP now will do the trick. Thanks for warning me btw :)

Re:Hand held at arm's length or two scoops of dipp (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26416971)

No problem. I just thought the software sounded interesting and went for a look. When I got the warning, I thought I'd been duped, till I googled it and found it was for real.

Good luck sorting the site!

Re:Hand held at arm's length or two scoops of dipp (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#26427325)

Thanks, it's all sorted out, and Google recrawled it correctly :).

This is goa6tsex (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26410191)

people's faces at a child knows rivalry, and we'll to deliveR what, Users With Large according tothis Jesus Up The sadnees And it was Love of two is about a project This post brought they started to

Alien Kepler conversation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26411733)

Alien 1: What is that thing?

Alien 2: I think it's some type of Earth-created orbital observatory meant to search for planets in other solar systems in an area of the Earth's sky about the size at arm's length of a human hand.

Alien 1: Ssshh... wait a minute. You hear that? I think there's noise coming from it. What's it saying?

Alien 2: Ummm, hold on a minute, let me adjust this. I think I can hear it now...

          Hmmm. I think it's saying, "Talk to the Hand."

Alien 1: Huh?

Alien 2: Dunno...

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