Looking for New Planets

NASA's Kepler space telescope has discovered these Earth-like exoplanets, along with many others.
Artist's rendering of the planets in the Kepler system. They are similar or a bit larger when compared to the size of Earth.
"Exoplanet" is the term for any planet outside of our solar system.

Pack a Space Telescope - Activity Instructions
Astronomers use space telescopes to study objects in outer space. Discover how engineers design space telescopes to fold inside rockets, and design and launch your own model telescope! Watch a how-to video here.

Exoplanet Transits - Activity Instructions
Scientists can find exoplanets by looking for their shadow passing in front of the star they orbit. See what you can learn about a hidden object by studying its shadow!

  • NASA videos with animations explain this method of searching for exoplanets and go further to talk about using spectral analysis to determine the chemicals in the planet's atmosphere. 
  • If you happen to have access to a telescope with an electronic light sensor, NASA has released open-source code for analyzing the light of a star to see if it has exoplanets using this method. Learn more here.

The Wobble Method - Activity Instructions
One way to find exoplanets is by looking for the motion of the star as it is pulled by the gravity of the orbiting planet. Try it out with a fun model activity!

Star Maps: Where are the Distant Worlds? - Activity Instructions
 Use a star map to find constellations and to identify stars with extrasolar planets. This activity is from the Night Sky Network.

Drawing of what the James Webb Space Telescope will look like in space.

 


 

NASA Space Science Education Consortium logo.This project was funded under NASA cooperative agreement NNX16AL65A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
All photos from NASA unless otherwise credited.