The first definitive detection of a planet outside our solar system occurred in 1992. Since then, the pace of exoplanet discovery has increased rapidly. Almost all planets detected to date are huge, often much more massive than Jupiter. More massive planets are being discovered due to limitations in our detection methods. To date, no earthlike planets have been found.
The Kepler telescope was launched March 7, 2009 and will spend the next 3.5 years gazing constantly at about 150,000 stars. It is the first project capable of detecting Earth-sized planets transiting Sun-like stars. Kepler will track the brightness of stars in its wide field of view to detect the movement of planets across the face of an orbited star.
Dr. Jenkins is the Kepler Mission co-Investigator and Science Algorithm Team Leader. He will discuss the Kepler mission in detail, from planning through data collection and calibration. He will also review the technology and how it will be used to identify possible earth-like planets.
Dr. Jenkins is a Principal Investigator for the SETI Institute. He received his Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. As the Kepler Mission Analysis Lead, Dr. Jenkins is responsible for developing algorithms for the Kepler Science Operations Center.