WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The National Space Club says its pre-eminent award, the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, will be awarded to NASA's Kepler space telescope mission.
The National Space Club said it is recognizing Kepler for revolutionizing astrophysics and exoplanet science by expanding the census of planets beyond our solar system, NASA reported Thursday.
"This is an outstanding achievement for the entire Kepler team," John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator for science in Washington, said. "Kepler continues to surprise and inspire us on a regular basis and I'm delighted to see the team's pioneering work acknowledged with the Goddard Trophy."
The award will be presented at the 57th Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner March 7 in Washington.
Previous winners of the trophy include NASA's Curiosity and Mars Science Laboratory team, James A. Van Allen and the Apollo 11 astronaut crew.
Launched in 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission to find Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone, the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of an orbiting planet.
"Kepler's determination that most stars have planets and that Earth-size planets are common provides impetus to future missions that will determine whether many planets have atmospheres compatible with the possibility of life," Kepler investigator William Borucki said. "The future science enabled by the Kepler results will be one of the mission's greatest legacies."
The National Space Club, a non-profit organization based in Washington, advocates for "excellence in space activity through interaction between industry and government."