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A Scientist in Space and Searching for Earth-like Planets: NASA’s Kepler Mission

Dr. Janice VossMarch 7, 2007

Dr. Janice Voss (NASA Ames Research Center)

Listen (mp3 file, 17.5 MB)

Dr. Voss, who has logged 49 days in space (traveling almost 19 million miles in 779 Earth orbits) discusses her work in space and what it’s like flying on the Shuttle as a scientist. She then talks about NASA’s upcoming Kepler mission, which will use a telescope in space to search for “transits” — when a planet orbiting another star moves in front of its star and blocks its light. Although a planet might only block a tiny fraction of the light from a star, that decrease in brightness is enough to give a clear signal that the planet is there. With this mission, scientists hope to be able to find not only Jupiter and Saturn-sized planets, but also those as small as Earth. At the end, Dr. Voss answers a number of audience questions about both aspects of her work.