(CBS News) The question "Is anybody out there?" grows more tantalizing with the discovery of each new far-off planet. Barry Petersen has been talking to scientists searching for clues . . .
Starry nights inspire wonder, and wondering: Is there life out there?
So how fitting that, in March 2009, NASA launched the planet-hunting telescope Kepler into the night sky.
Look up tonight at the constellation Cygnus -- also known as the Northern Cross -- and up in that one slice of sky is where Kepler has been scanning 150,000 stars every 30 minutes for the last four years.
Natalie Batalha is a Kepler Mission scientist, but she's really a stargazer with a passion. "We were born to be discoverers right? I think that's basically what drives us."
She and other Kepler Mission scientists look at measurements of the brightness of a star. "When the planet passes in front, it's going to block some of the light," Batalha explained.
That momentary dimming of light is how we infer the existence of a plane orbiting that star.
"There's not much more dramatic to discover than another world," said Petersen.
"Another world like ours," because it changes the way we look at the cosmos, right?" said Batalha. . . .
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