Abstract: The past two decades have witnessed accelerating progress on one of the most fundamental questions in astronomy: Are we alone in the Universe? Astronomers have already discovered hundreds of planets around distant stars. Some of them are nearly as small as the Earth and orbit in the Goldilocks of their parent star where liquid water can exist. It remains to be seen whether biological signatures of life or evidence of radio communications can be found in these planetary systems. Our current emphasis is to determine how common such planets might be, to find as many of them as possible, and to characterize those which have already been discovered. I will give an overview of NASA's Kepler space telescope, how it searches for planets around distant stars, and how we characterize those planets using the natural vibrations of their suns.