NASA Planet Hunter Blasts Into Night Sky

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA's planet-hunting spacecraft,
Kepler, has blasted off aboard a rocket from Cape Canaveral.

The Kepler telescope rocketed into the night sky late Friday on
a historic voyage to track down other Earths in a faraway patch of
the Milky Way galaxy. The $600 million mission will last at least
three-and-a-half years.

Once it's settled into an orbit around the sun, Kepler will
stare nonstop at 100,000 stars. The telescope will watch for any
dimming, or winks, in the stellar brightness that might be caused
by orbiting planets. It's the first NASA mission capable of
detecting Earth-size planets around stars like our sun.

Kepler is named after the German 17th-century astrophysicist.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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