After Hours

First Kepler Spacecraft images

Kepler ejects its dust cover

The Kepler spacecraft is in the initial stages of its mission to examine our region of the Milky Way in order to discover potentially habitable, Earth-like planets.

This artist's animation illustrates how the dust cover on NASA's Kepler telescope was ejected. Engineers sent a command up to the space telescope to pass an electrical current through a "burn wire" on April 7, 2009. The cover, an oval measuring 1.7 meters by 1.3 meters (67 inches by 52 inches), ejected as it was designed to do, uncovering the photometer, photometer, which is the largest camera ever flown in space. It has 42 charge-coupled devices (CCDs) that will "detect slight dips in starlight, which occur when planets passing in front of their stars partially block the light from Kepler's view."

View the animated video.

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

*All information and images courtesy of NASA. Follow links to full captions and multimedia pages on the official Kepler mission Web site.

By Selena Frye

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...