How NASA's Kepler Plans to Find Another Earth

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Kepler is NASA's first mission capable of finding habitable planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy. This overview from NASA explains how Kepler works, and why it matters. 

In "NASA's Planet Hunter Needs Money to Continue the Search for Earth's Twins," Alexis Madrigal argues that even though Kepler's funding is in jeopardy, it's our "moral imperative" to continue searching:

Other earths - rocky planets with liquid water and a decent atmosphere - would have the raw materials for life as we know it. Kepler can tell us how many of these earth-like planets there are, bringing us one huge step to answering one of the most profound questions in science: are we alone? If we are, that'll be one stunning answer. If we aren't, that'll be a different kind of stunning answer.

Either way, for my values, there is a moral imperative to answer this question. Finding life outside the earth could reshape the way humanity thinks about itself. The discovery of extraterrestrial life will mark an epoch in a way that even the moonshot did not. When (and it seems like when not if) we find another earth, the real space age will begin.

For more videos from NASA, visit http://www.nasa.gov/. 

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg's work in media spans documentary television, advertising, and print. As a producer in the Viewer Created Content division of Al Gore's Current TV, she acquired and produced short documentaries by independent filmmakers around the world. Post-Current, she worked as a producer and strategist at Urgent Content, developing consumer-created and branded nonfiction campaigns for clients including Cisco, Ford, and GOOD Magazine. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University, where she was co-creator and editor in chief of H BOMB Magazine.

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