NASA recently released an image taken by the Kepler Space Telescope. In it, Earth is a giant beam of light.
According to disclose:
Kepler was first launched 9 years ago and was initially designed to scan the milky way for possible habitable, earth type planets as well as measure the brightness of the suns that may have such planets in their system using its photometer. Due to a mechanical failure, Kepler was reassigned to a less detail specific search for planets. Kepler has successfully discovered thousands of possible exoplanets although it is estimated that the true number of such worlds could be astronomically higher. The Observatory could also be used to detect and keep on other bodies such as asteroids and comets.
Its operational cost is estimated at about 18 million annually. It’s current mission, K2, is set to last until 2019, a year further than the fuel reserves it has in store.
Joining Kepler amongst the stars this year will be TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite) which, using similar designs to the Observatory, will search and examine exoplanets in star systems close to home. Its mission duration is set at two years. In 2019, a new Telescope will also be launched. The James Webb Telescope is a multinational observatory that is expected to be the next Hubble Space Telescope. It has multiple goals, including the possible ability to observe how new galaxies form, a feature beyond current spacefaring telescopes. It will also continue to mission of seeking out exoplanets and examining various cosmological bodies.