Here's what is perhaps the centerpiece of Kepler's collection of gear: the focal plane assembly, also known as the biggest camera NASA has ever flown in space. The 21 purplish-blue squares you see here are each made up of two rectangular, 2,200x1,024-pixel "charged coupled devices," or CCDs, which have been measuring the light from Kepler's targeted stars.
This camera -- rated at a whopping 95 megapixels -- hasn't been taking the sort of pictures you're used to, however. It's been collecting data on brightness and sending it to an onboard computer, which in turn has been beaming the data to Earth once a month.
Remember that pattern of squares -- you'll see it again very soon.
May 19, 2013 12:01 AM PDT
Photo by: Ball Aerospace & Technologies
| Caption by: Edward Moyer
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