Monday, March 3, 2014

NASA's Planet-Hunting Kepler Spacecraft a 'Gift That Keeps on Giving'

An artist's interpretation of NASA's planet-hunting Kepler observatory in space.

NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope may be down, but it's far from out.

Though a glitch ended Kepler's original operations last May, the mission continues to discover distant worlds, adding a whopping 715 new exoplanets to the tally on Wednesday (Feb. 26). Several thousand more will likely follow in the years to come, and a new mission could get Kepler scanning the heavens again in the near future.

"Kepler is the gift that keeps on giving," Sara Seager, a professor of physics and planetary science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told reporters Wednesday during a NASA press conference that announced the 715 newfound worlds. [Kepler's Exoplanet Bonanza Explained (Infographic)].

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