“We certainly won’t find ET but we might find ET’s home..”

After previous launch problems there were undoubtedly sighs of relief at NASA this morning when the Kepler mission – a search for habitable planets – got off the ground and safely entered its sun-centred orbit, trailing 950 miles behind Earth. And, via the Professor, here’s CosmicBlog’s Alan Boyle on the search for exo-planets. And a wondrous online catalogue of the exo-planets found to date – some of which have been noted on Slugger, including some potential ones. [Don’t forget to mention QUB! – Ed]. You just did. Here’s some historical background on Johannes Kepler, and here are some of the NASA scientists involved with Kepler on the background and science of the mission. Adds From the BBC report – “This is a historical mission; it’s not just a science mission,” said Dr Edward Weiler, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at Nasa. “I maintain that it really attacks some very basic human questions that have been part of our genetic code since that first man or woman looked up into the sky and asked the question: ‘are we alone?’.”

No space post would be complete without a launch video.. [It wouldn’t?! – Ed] So here you go. Kepler lift-off!

That “holy grail” might just be a little bit closer..