Gallery: Kepler Space Telescope

Kepler Space Telescope Image 1

The goal of this probe, which was launched in March, is to find planets much like our own in distant star systems--Earth-size bodies orbiting their stars in the sweet spot where the temperature is appropriate to support, just maybe, alien life.

Kepler Space Telescope Image 2

A scientist monitors the telescope's readings, which show observations of some 100,000 stars 600 to 3,000 light years away.

Kepler Space Telescope Image 3

The telescope is looking for the faint dimming of a star that occurs when an orbiting planet passes in front of it. Observe three such blips on a strictly periodic schedule over the course of three years, and you have a planet with a one-year orbit.

Kepler Space Telescope Image 4

Scientists hope that Kepler could find dozens of habitable planets during its three-to-four year mission.

Kepler Space Telescope Image 5

The Kepler Space Telescope.

Kepler Space Telescope Image 6

Scientists hope to use Kepler to find and map habitable planets orbiting distant stars.