Kepler starts seeking life-capable planets

Nasa has launched its Kepler telescope, as it attempts to track down Earth-like planets that could sustain life.

The goal of finding planets occupying an orbit around a sun, especially those that would allow for liquid water to be present on the surface, could ultimately lead to the discovery of life outside of our own planet.

The launch was a success – much to the delight of principal scientist Bill Borucki.

Go Kepler!

"It was just magnificent. It looked like a star was being formed in the sky," Borucki told PA."Everybody was delighted, everybody was screaming, 'Go Kepler!'"

The telescope will take an Earth-trailing orbit and will look out for the changes in light from stars which would indicate a planet passing across it.

To accomplish this, the telescope is fitted with light sensors so sensitive they could monitor a mosquito passing in front of a car headlamp.

The telescope, at a cost of £428 million, will be monitoring the stars in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations.

Via PA