In DepthAstronomy

Earth-based planet finders power up

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Science  05 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6371, pp. 18-19
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6371.18

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NASA's Kepler spacecraft has racked up thousands of exoplanet discoveries since its launch in 2009, but before Kepler, the workhorses of exoplanet identification were ground-based instruments that measure tiny stellar wobbles caused by the gravity of an orbiting planet. They are now undergoing a quiet renaissance. The new generation of these devices may be precise enough to find a true Earth twin: a planet with the same mass as ours, orbiting a sunlike star once a year. That's something Kepler—sensitive to planet size, but not mass—can't do. Over the past few months, two new third-generation instruments have opened their eyes to the sky and nearly two dozen others are either under construction or have recently begun service.