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Robotic Spacecraft (Astronomy, Planetary, Earth, Solar/Heliophysics) => Space Science Coverage => Topic started by: jacqmans on 04/08/2009 02:21 PM

Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 04/08/2009 02:21 PM
News release: 2009-065                                April 7, 2009

Dust Cover Jettisoned From NASA's Kepler Telescope

Engineers have successfully ejected the dust cover from NASA's Kepler telescope, a spaceborne mission soon to begin searching for worlds like Earth.

"The cover released and flew away exactly as we designed it to do," said Kepler Project Manager James Fanson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "This is a critical step toward answering a question that has come down to us across 100 generations of human history -- are there other planets like Earth, or are we alone in the galaxy?"

Kepler, which launched on March 6 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., will spend three-and-a-half years staring at more than 100,000 stars in our Milky Way galaxy for signs of Earth-size planets. Some of the planets are expected to orbit in a star's "habitable zone," a warm region where water could pool on the surface. The mission's science instrument, called a photometer, contains the largest camera ever flown in space -- its 42 charge-coupled devices (CCDs) will detect slight dips in starlight, which occur when planets passing in front of their stars partially block the light from Kepler's view.

The telescope's oval-shaped dust cover, measuring 1.7 meters by 1.3 meters (67 inches by 52 inches), protected the photometer from contamination before and after launch. The dust cover also blocked stray light from entering the telescope during launch -- light that could have damaged its sensitive detectors. In addition, the cover was important for calibrating the photometer. Images taken in the dark helped characterize noise coming from the instrument's electronics, and this noise will later be removed from the actual science data.

"Now the photometer can see the stars and will soon start the task of detecting the planets," said Kepler's Science Principal Investigator William Borucki at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "We have thoroughly measured the background noise so that our photometer can detect minute changes in a star's brightness caused by planets."

At 7:13 p.m. PDT on April 7, engineers at Kepler's mission operations center at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, Colo., sent commands to pass an electrical current through a "burn wire" to break the wire and release a latch holding the cover closed. The spring-loaded cover swung open on a fly-away hinge, before drifting away from the spacecraft. The cover is now in its own orbit around the sun, similar to Kepler's sun-centric orbit. See an animation of the event at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/multimedia/videos/cover.html .

With the cover off, starlight is entering the photometer and being imaged onto its focal plane. Engineers will continue calibrating the instrument using images of stars for another several weeks, after which science observations will begin. 

Kepler is a NASA Discovery mission. NASA's Ames Research Center Ames is the home organization of the science principal investigator, and is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo., is responsible for developing the Kepler flight system and supporting mission operations. 

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/kepler .

-end-

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 04/16/2009 05:00 PM
RELEASE: 09-085

NASA'S KEPLER CAPTURES FIRST VIEWS OF PLANET-HUNTING TERRITORY

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Kepler mission has taken its first images
of the star-rich sky where it will soon begin hunting for planets
like Earth.

The new "first light" images show the mission's target patch of sky, a
vast starry field in the Cygnus-Lyra region of our Milky Way galaxy.
One image shows millions of stars in Kepler's full field of view,
while two others zoom in on portions of the larger region. The images
can be seen online at:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/multimedia/20090416.html


"Kepler's first glimpse of the sky is awe-inspiring," said Lia
LaPiana, Kepler's program executive at NASA Headquarters in
Washington. "To be able to see millions of stars in a single snapshot
is simply breathtaking."

One new image from Kepler shows its entire field of view -- a
100-square-degree portion of the sky, equivalent to two side-by-side
dips of the Big Dipper. The regions contain an estimated 14 millions
stars, more than 100,000 of which were selected as ideal candidates
for planet hunting.

Two other views focus on just one-thousandth of the full field of
view. In one image, a cluster of stars located about 13,000
light-years from Earth, called NGC 6791, can be seen in the lower
left corner. The other image zooms in on a region containing a star,
called Tres-2, with a known Jupiter-like planet orbiting every 2.5
days.

"It's thrilling to see this treasure trove of stars," said William
Borucki, science principal investigator for Kepler at NASA's Ames
Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "We expect to find hundreds
of planets circling those stars, and for the first time, we can look
for Earth-size planets in the habitable zones around other stars like
the sun."

Kepler will spend the next three-and-a-half years searching more than
100,000 pre-selected stars for signs of planets. It is expected to
find a variety of worlds, from large, gaseous ones, to rocky ones as
small as Earth. The mission is the first with the ability to find
planets like ours -- small, rocky planets orbiting sun-like stars in
the habitable zone, where temperatures are right for possible lakes
and oceans of water.

To find the planets, Kepler will stare at one large expanse of sky for
the duration of its lifetime, looking for periodic dips in starlight
that occur as planets circle in front of their stars and partially
block the light. Its 95-megapixel camera, the largest ever launched
into space, can detect tiny changes in a star's brightness of only 20
parts per million. Images from the camera are intentionally blurred
to minimize the number of bright stars that saturate the detectors.
While some of the slightly saturated stars are candidates for planet
searches, heavily saturated stars are not.

"Everything about Kepler has been optimized to find Earth-size
planets," said James Fanson, Kepler's project manager at NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Our images are road maps
that will allow us, in a few years, to point to a star and say a
world like ours is there."

Scientists and engineers will spend the next few weeks calibrating
Kepler's science instrument, the photometer, and adjusting the
telescope's alignment to achieve the best focus. Once these steps are
complete, the planet hunt will begin.

"We've spent years designing this mission, so actually being able to
see through its eyes is tremendously exciting," said Eric Bachtell,
the lead Kepler systems engineer at Ball Aerospace & Technology Corp.
in Boulder, Colo. Bachtell has been working on the design,
development and testing of Kepler for nine years.

Kepler is a NASA Discovery mission. Ames is responsible for the ground
system development, mission operations and science data analysis. JPL
manages the Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies
Corp. is responsible for developing the Kepler flight system and
supporting mission operations.

For images, animations and more information about the Kepler mission,
visit:



http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

       
-end-
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 05/13/2009 09:48 PM
Kepler Mission Status Report                                    May 13, 2009

Let the Planet Hunt Begin

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has begun its search for other Earth-like worlds. The mission, which launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on March 6, will spend the next three-and-a-half years staring at more than 100,000 stars for telltale signs of planets. Kepler has the unique ability to find planets as small as Earth that orbit sun-like stars at distances where temperatures are right for possible lakes and oceans.

"Now the fun begins," said William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "We are all really excited to start sorting through the data and discovering the planets."

Scientists and engineers have spent the last two months checking out and calibrating the Kepler spacecraft. Data have been collected to characterize the imaging performance as well as the noise level in the measurement electronics. The scientists have constructed the list of targets for the start of the planet search, and this information has been loaded onto the spacecraft.

"If Kepler got into a staring contest, it would win," said James Fanson, Kepler project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "The spacecraft is ready to stare intently at the same stars for several years so that it can precisely measure the slightest changes in their brightness caused by planets." Kepler will hunt for planets by looking for periodic dips in the brightness of stars -- events that occur when orbiting planets cross in front of their stars and partially block the light.

The mission's first finds are expected to be large, gas planets situated close to their stars. Such discoveries could be announced as early as next year.

Kepler is a NASA Discovery mission. NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., is the home organization of the science principal investigator, and is responsible for the ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. JPL manages the Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., is responsible for developing the Kepler flight system and supporting mission operations.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/kepler and http://www.kepler.nasa.gov .

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 08/03/2009 01:38 PM
MEDIA ADVISORY: M09-144

NASA ANNOUNCES BRIEFING ABOUT KEPLER'S EARLY SCIENCE RESULTS

WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a media briefing on Thursday, Aug. 6, at
2 p.m. EDT, to discuss early science results of the Kepler mission.
Kepler is the first spacecraft with the ability to find Earth-size
planets orbiting stars like our sun in a zone where liquid water
could exist.

The televised briefing will be held in the James E. Webb Memorial
Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. S.W., Washington.

The briefing participants are:

-- Jon Morse, NASA's Astrophysics Division director, NASA Headquarters

-- William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator, NASA's Ames
Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
-- Sara Seager, professor of planetary science and physics,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
-- Alan Boss, astrophysicist, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism,
Carnegie Institution, Washington

Reporters may also ask questions from participating NASA locations or
by telephone. To reserve a telephone line, contact J.D. Harrington by
e-mail at:
j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

Kepler is a NASA Discovery mission. It was launched from Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on March 6, 2009.

Besides being the home organization of the science principal
investigator, NASA's Ames Research Center is responsible for Kepler's
ground system development, mission operations and science data
analysis.

Kepler mission development is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp.
is responsible for developing the Kepler flight system and supporting
mission operations.

For more information about NASA TV downlinks and streaming video,
visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv


For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 08/06/2009 06:16 PM
RELEASE: 09-180

NASA'S KEPLER MISSION SPIES CHANGING PHASES IN A DISTANT WORLD

WASHINGTON -- NASA's new exoplanet-hunting Kepler space telescope has
detected the atmosphere of a known giant gas planet, demonstrating
the telescope's extraordinary scientific capabilities. The discovery
will be published Friday in the journal Science.

The find is based on a relatively short 10 days of test data collected
before the official start of science operations. Kepler was launched
March 6, 2009, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The
observation demonstrates the extremely high precision of the
measurements made by the telescope, even before its calibration and
data analysis software were finished.

"As NASA's first exoplanets mission, Kepler has made a dramatic
entrance on the planet-hunting scene," said Jon Morse, director of
the Science Mission Directorate's Astrophysics Division at NASA
Headquarters in Washington. "Detecting this planet's atmosphere in
just the first 10 days of data is only a taste of things to come. The
planet hunt is on!"

Kepler team members say these new data indicate the mission is indeed
capable of finding Earth-like planets, if they exist. Kepler will
spend the next three-and-a-half years searching for planets as small
as Earth, including those that orbit stars in a warm zone where there
could be water. It will do this by looking for periodic dips in the
brightness of stars, which occur when orbiting planets transit, or
cross in front of, the stars.

"When the light curves from tens of thousands of stars were shown to
the Kepler science team, everyone was awed; no one had ever seen such
exquisitely detailed measurements of the light variations of so many
different types of stars," said William Borucki, the principal
science investigator and lead author of the paper.

The observations were collected from a planet called HAT-P-7, known to
transit a star located about 1,000 light years from Earth. The planet
orbits the star in just 2.2 days and is 26 times closer than Earth is
to the sun. Its orbit, combined with a mass somewhat larger than the
planet Jupiter, classifies this planet as a "hot Jupiter." It is so
close to its star, the planet is as hot as the glowing red heating
element on a stove.

The Kepler measurements show the transit from the previously detected
HAT-P-7. However, these new measurements are so precise, they also
show a smooth rise and fall of the light between transits caused by
the changing phases of the planet, similar to those of our moon. This
is a combination of both the light emitted from the planet and the
light reflected off the planet. The smooth rise and fall of light is
also punctuated by a small drop in light, called an occultation,
exactly halfway between each transit. An occultation happens when a
planet passes behind a star.

The new Kepler data can be used to study this hot Jupiter in
unprecedented detail. The depth of the occultation and the shape and
amplitude of the light curve show the planet has an atmosphere with a
day-side temperature of about 4,310 degrees Fahrenheit. Little of
this heat is carried to the cool night side. The occultation time
compared to the main transit time shows the planet has a circular
orbit. The discovery of light from this planet confirms the
predictions by researchers and theoretical models that the emission
would be detectable by Kepler.

This new discovery also demonstrates Kepler has the precision to find
Earth-size planets. The observed brightness variation is just one and
a half times what is expected for a transit caused by an Earth-sized
planet. Although this is already the highest precision ever obtained
for an observation of this star, Kepler will be even more precise
after analysis software being developed for the mission is completed.

"This early result shows the Kepler detection system is performing
right on the mark," said David Koch, deputy principal investigator of
NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "It bodes well
for Kepler's prospects to be able to detect Earth-size planets."

Kepler is a NASA Discovery mission. Ames is responsible for the ground
system development, mission operations and science data analysis.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the
Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. of
Boulder, Colo., is responsible for developing the Kepler flight
system and supporting mission operations.

For images, animations and more information about the Kepler mission,
visit:



http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: iamlucky13 on 08/07/2009 10:47 PM
Good stuff, although I admit I was hoping when I saw the announcement of a press conference that they might have a few probable candidates for transit events around new stars.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jimvela on 08/08/2009 12:03 AM
Good stuff, although I admit I was hoping when I saw the announcement of a press conference that they might have a few probable candidates for transit events around new stars.

Who says that they don't?  :)

From launch forward it's up to the program leadership, science team, and the PI to process data and release what they have when they are ready to do so.  I'm quite certain that the PI won't release data until it's thoroughly verified and well documented.

In the case of some of the most exciting transits (to me anyway- an earth-like planet in the habitable zone), that could mean years later when the transit is verified additional times.

I have very high confidence that the Kepler mission will find not only a large number of transit events, but also lots of other interesting data that will keep the science community making discoveries for years to come.

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: eeergo on 11/01/2009 04:38 PM
Kepler has problems with its CCD signal amplifiers!

http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091030/full/news.2009.1051.html?s=news_rss
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Hungry4info3 on 11/01/2009 09:57 PM
Things aren't as bad as the Nature article conveys.

Quote from: William Borucki, Kepler Science Principal Investigator
There is a mistake in the Nature article. The Kepler Mission is actually doing very well and is producing planet discoveries that will be announced early next year. Data from 3 of the 84 channels that have more noise than the others will be corrected or the data flagged to avoid being mixed in with the low noise data prior to the time an Earth twin could be discovered.

(loc http://blogs.discovery.com/space_disco/2009/10/keplers-exoplanet-hunt-on-hold-until-2011.html )
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 11/01/2009 10:16 PM
Kepler has problems with its CCD signal amplifiers!

http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091030/full/news.2009.1051.html?s=news_rss

A known issue before launch as well...

AT least they can still do good science
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: daver on 11/03/2009 10:51 PM
Don't they have a review before launch?  Shouldn't someone of said, "Hey, we have a known issue that might affect the mission, perhaps we should make sure everything is in working order before we send it off."   If that conversation actually happened and someone signed a wavier and said, "Just fly the dang thing".  This is the time they should be held accountable. 
  This is a really exciting and important mission and I'm bummed that there's a problem that could of been handled here even if it meant a delay. 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: rdale on 11/03/2009 11:18 PM
Don't they have a review before launch?  Shouldn't someone of said, "Hey, we have a known issue that might affect the mission, perhaps we should make sure everything is in working order before we send it off."

Did you read the followup post from Kepler people?

Quote
  This is a really exciting and important mission and I'm bummed that there's a problem that could of been handled here even if it meant a delay. 

How much of a delay would it have involved?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: iamlucky13 on 11/06/2009 04:35 AM
More info from the mission website:

Quote
Random noise is present in all measurements and cannot be calibrated out. Therefore, strict requirements were placed on the design of Kepler’s spacecraft systems to limit random noise to a low level. Measurements taken in space confirm that Kepler meets its random noise requirements.

Systematic noise results from the imperfect nature of any measuring device. It represents the instrument’s “finger print” placed upon the measurement, and must be calibrated out of the data in post-processing on the ground. Because systematic noise depends on the specific characteristics of the instrument, the best calibration requires that the noise sources be characterized and modeled based on measurements made in space.

And a little more from New Scientist:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18095-telescope-glitch-could-delay-discovery-of-alien-earths.html

Quote
The tiny brightness dips from a transiting Earth-size planet could be lost amid these fluctuations. But since the problem affects only a few of the 84 channels, it is not expected to hide all Earth-size planets, Borucki says.

"People have found a pimple here and they are trying to make it into a mountain," he told New Scientist. "A lot of the planets will show up regardless."
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: madscientist197 on 11/06/2009 01:57 PM
I'm not sure whether to believe any of this reporting or not. Three years to write post-processing software? Noisy amplifiers are not exactly a new problem -- this is prior art.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jimvela on 11/06/2009 02:15 PM
Don't they have a review before launch? 

The program did.

Quote
Shouldn't someone of said, "Hey, we have a known issue that might affect the mission, perhaps we should make sure everything is in working order before we send it off."   If that conversation actually happened and someone signed a wavier and said, "Just fly the dang thing".  This is the time they should be held accountable. 

That is a mischaracterization.  I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and attribute your statement to ignorance of the specifics rather than malice.  There was and is a minor issue that was understood and found to have a minimal potential impact on the mission.

Quote
  This is a really exciting and important mission and I'm bummed that there's a problem that could of been handled here even if it meant a delay. 

That's not the way a fix would have played out.

The alternative to try and fix it was to rip the photometer open, which would have involved at least 6-10 months of delay.  That would have meant many tens of millions of dollars of additional cost. 

There was an additional time-sensitive element in that there was a finite amount of time available to get the mission into space.  There was another optical component that could have degraded in time and then it too would have to be replaced (which would be additional delay and many more tens of millions of dollars)

At that time, the program was already being threatened with cancellation.  A major cost and schedule overrun would have likely meant end of mission. 

No science return at all.  That's what the alternative was.

Everyone involved made the correct decision to fly as-is, and now that the mission is on orbit and collecting science data this relatively minor issue can be worked on via additional software updates.

I for one can't wait until the PI and his team start sharing with the world the data that they do have and the findings.  This really isn't the end of the world nor the fiasco that some want to make it into.

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jimvela on 11/06/2009 02:46 PM
I'm not sure whether to believe any of this reporting or not. Three years to write post-processing software? Noisy amplifiers are not exactly a new problem -- this is prior art.

The article says that the new software will be ready in 2010.  (We're two months away from 2010).

Note that what is actually being said is that for candidate transits, having the upgraded software will make it easier to confirm transits of candidate objects. 

In other words, you have a candidate transit that could be noise instead.  If you see another transit later with the upgraded software in place, you've got a much stronger candidate.

A hypothetical earth-like object really needs three transits to confirm, so an exact earth twin would take three years to confirm with the Kepler system.

I'd place a healthy wager that the PI and science community already have quite a few very interesting (but not direct earth-analog) discoveries- and that more are coming along in a year or two when the system can do a full mission cycle.

My personal opinion is that we'll find that planets in roughly habitable zones aren't rare at all, and that there are lots and lots of places in our galactic neighborhood that could sustain life should it arise (or travel) there.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: madscientist197 on 11/07/2009 09:52 AM
The article says that the new software will be ready in 2010.  (We're two months away from 2010).

I admit I miscounted (2 versus 3), but SA said that the "rigourous testing" of the post-processing software would take until 2011, which strained credibility. It's not like poor post-processing software on the ground will make Kepler explode ;)

Jim, did you have a chance to read the Nature article before it was edited? It was appallingly misleading (it's still pretty bad, especially if someone doesn't read the whole thing). The first few sentances still imply that the 2011 date is a delay caused by the noise problem, which is completely false.

Quote
A hypothetical earth-like object really needs three transits to confirm, so an exact earth twin would take three years to confirm with the Kepler system.
I know that... You know that... But whoever wrote the Nature article didn't seem to know that; honestly, it was the sort of reporting I might expect from a tabloid.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jimvela on 11/07/2009 11:50 AM
The article says that the new software will be ready in 2010.  (We're two months away from 2010).

I admit I miscounted (2 versus 3), but SA said that the "rigourous testing" of the post-processing software would take until 2011, which strained credibility. It's not like poor post-processing software on the ground will make Kepler explode ;)


I should probably clarify my understanding of the situation: there is both ground and flight segment software changes coming. 

Note that a significant amount of science data processing is done onboard the Kepler spacecraft- there just isn't sufficient bandwidth (nor DSN time) to downlink the raw data.  My understanding is that it actually is FSW that is being updated-  it is well worth testing thoroughly.

Since the modified science processing FSW will be operating up on the spacecraft, seeing those results will take a while.  The mission only dumps processed data nominally every 30 days when the spacecraft turns back to point the HGA at earth and dump science.  It'll take a bit of time to be sure everything is OK once the new SW is up.

The good news is that there are very high fidelity software test benches to qualify the updated FSW on. 

Disclaimer: My lab built those benches, I'm very familiar with them- but probably a bit biased towards liking them.  Actually, it's more of a love-hate relationship depending on how well they behave. :-)


Quote
Jim, did you have a chance to read the Nature article before it was edited?

No, it had been edited by the time I saw it. 

I must admit, there is very little good coverage of anything space related in the mainstream media.  It's a good reminder to me- they screw up and bias space coverage horribly, but not any worse than they screw up and bias coverage of everything else.

Quote

Quote
A hypothetical earth-like object really needs three transits to confirm, so an exact earth twin would take three years to confirm with the Kepler system.
I know that... You know that... But whoever wrote the Nature article didn't seem to know that; honestly, it was the sort of reporting I might expect from a tabloid.

For the sake of accuracy, note that technically a near twin earth with a 1 year orbit could be confirmed in just over two years if its transit was spotted just after commissioning, then again a year later, then a year after that. 

A habitable world with a 1.5 year orbital period might not be confirmed at all, as its worst case transits could be 1.5 years after commissioning, 3 years after commissioning, and 4.5 years after commissioning. 

There's no guarantee that there will be sufficient fuel on board the spacecraft to do science for much of an extended mission- so long-period planets might fall outside the available mission operations period of the spacecraft.

I believe that there will end up at the end of the mission many possible but unconfirmed transits that will be the foundation for much follow-on investigation even after the observations from the Kepler spacecraft have concluded.

If someone wanted to fairly criticize the Kepler mission, the deletion of the gimballed HGA and the size of the propellant tank would be two of the most significant limitations of the Kepler mission, IMHO- even more so than the noise issue. 

The same qualifier made several posts above- that the added costs of addressing those known limitiations of the mission could have meant cancellation- would also apply to these two criticisms.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: madscientist197 on 11/07/2009 01:39 PM
My understanding is that it actually is FSW that is being updated-  it is well worth testing thoroughly.

Ah, thanks. That makes a big difference. Nice to have someone around here who's involved with the project and can clarify things a bit.

I must admit that I'm not quite as interested in the transiting planets as studying variable stars. I'm sure there'll be some really interesting results in this area. For me one of the reasons is that all the planets are going to be faceless statistics -- we'll know the orbital period and volume and that's probably about it. On the other hand, we will know so much more about the host stars.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Mike_1179 on 11/09/2009 07:23 PM

If someone wanted to fairly criticize the Kepler mission, the deletion of the gimballed HGA and the size of the propellant tank would be two of the most significant limitations of the Kepler mission, IMHO- even more so than the noise issue. 


But to be fair no one knows if this technique will really work to find Earth-like planets in habitable zone and no one will know how often they exist until this experiment is complete.

Can you consider Kepler as a technology demonstration of the techniques and tools you would need for a larger survey of the sky?  Kepler only looks at a small patch of sky (for some rather good reasons) and had to make some technical comprimises.  If a sufficiently large number of Earth-like plantets are found around stars in this small patch of sky, would you not want to launch something like a next-generation Kepler-type mission, but something which targets a different area of the sky.  With the risks of this type of mission retired partially by Kepler, you'd have a case to build a more capable next-gen planet-hunter.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: iamlucky13 on 11/09/2009 10:51 PM
The currently envisioned path forward, as I understand it, is for Kepler to locate earth-sized planets, or at least candidates. At the very least, candidates could be studied by Hubble, Keck, Spitzer, etc to confirm the observations. Then down the road a larger mission would be built to conduct more detailed study of those planets. The Terrestrial Planet Finder and the Space Interferometry Mission are two candidates.

So I wouldn't call Kepler a technology demonstrator (transits have already been demonstrated, although not in such a wide field), but rather a precursor mission to more serious study.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 11/09/2009 11:03 PM
But to be fair no one knows if this technique will really work to find Earth-like planets in habitable zone
Really ? My understanding is that the parameters of Kepler were very carefully selected to have an extremely high confidence of detecting earth like planets if they are there. Of course, there is always some uncertainty, but it would be a very big surprise (and a serious failure of the design process) if transits of earth like planets simply couldn't be detected.
Quote
and no one will know how often they exist until this experiment is complete.
This is true, it's the main point of the experiment.
The currently envisioned path forward, as I understand it, is for Kepler to locate earth-sized planets, or at least candidates. At the very least, candidates could be studied by Hubble, Keck, Spitzer, etc to confirm the observations.
Actually, the Kepler stars are quite hard to follow up on with other methods. To get enough stars in the field of view, they have to be far away. This is OK for transits, but makes most other techniques more difficult. So Kepler will give us an idea of how common such planets are, but we will have to find them closer to home to do much detailed study.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: marsavian on 12/31/2009 09:58 PM
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2009/M09-160.html

MEDIA ADVISORY : M09-160  NASA to Unveil Kepler Space Telescope Discoveries   MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Kepler Mission scientists will reveal the space telescope’s latest discoveries at a news briefing in Washington on Monday, Jan. 4, 2010.

The announcement will be made at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST) at a news conference during the 215th national meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel.

News media may participate remotely via a live audio conference call by calling 202-745-2193. A live Web feed of the speakers' slides will be available during the presentation by visiting http://www.showmaestro.com/press. In order to view the slidecast, you must have QuickTime installed on your computer. To download a free copy, visit http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/.

NASA Ames will post the speakers' slides for downloading at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/multimedia/images/aas_conference.html once the briefing begins.

In addition, Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist on the Kepler science team, will be available for interviews at NASA Ames following the news briefing. Media interested in interviewing Lissauer should contact Rachel Prucey at 650-604-0643, 650-930-6149 or by emailing rachel.l.prucey@nasa.gov.

Although the news conference will not be broadcast live on NASA Television, Kepler video will be aired on NASA TV immediately following the news briefing on the media channel.

For NASA TV schedule information and to watch NASA TV online, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For more information about the Kepler mission on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: TheFallen on 01/01/2010 06:17 AM
The Kepler website has been re-designed.  Lookin' pretty spiffy...

http://kepler.nasa.gov/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: iamlucky13 on 01/02/2010 07:37 AM
NASA to Unveil Kepler Space Telescope Discoveries

Sweet! Here's hoping for Kepler's first new discoveries.

It's theoretically too soon to find anything earth-like, of course, but I'm sure they must have spotted some hot-Jupiter's by now.

The new site looks very sharp.

Also, more stuff from the mission manager's updates page, including mentions of a safe event on Nov 18, 30 papers submitted for review, and a reference to 110 GB of data transmitted to the ground in a single month.
http://kepler.nasa.gov/Mission/mmupdates/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=9
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: iamlucky13 on 01/04/2010 06:29 PM
Five new planets!

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepler-5-exoplanets.html

Rather than post the whole thing, here's some excepts:

Quote
Kepler's high sensitivity to both small and large planets enabled the discovery of the exoplanets, named Kepler 4b, 5b, 6b, 7b and 8b...

...They have orbits ranging from 3.3 to 4.9 days. Estimated temperatures of the planets range from 2,200 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than molten lava and much too hot for life as we know it...

..."We expected Jupiter-size planets in short orbits to be the first planets Kepler could detect. It's only a matter of time before more Kepler observations lead to smaller planets with longer period orbits, coming closer and closer to the discovery of the first Earth analog."...

...Kepler's science instrument, or photometer, already has measured hundreds of possible planet signatures that are being analyzed.

Here's the briefing slides:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/multimedia/images/aas_conference.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/04/2010 07:31 PM
What are the closest stars in Kepler's field-of-view? Can any of them be followed up with other methods of exoplanet detection?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 06/16/2010 06:02 AM
RELEASE: 10-146

NASA RELEASES KEPLER DATA ON POTENTIAL EXTRASOLAR PLANETS

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA's Kepler Mission has released 43 days of
science data on more than 156,000 stars. These stars are being
monitored for subtle brightness changes as part of an ongoing search
for Earth-like planets outside of our solar system.

Astronomers will use the new data to determine if orbiting planets are
responsible for brightness variations in several hundred stars. These
stars make up a full range of temperatures, sizes and ages. Many of
them are stable, while others pulsate. Some show starspots, which are
similar to sunspots, and a few produce flares that would sterilize
their nearest planets.

Kepler, a space observatory, looks for the data signatures of planets
by measuring tiny decreases in the brightness of stars when planets
cross in front of, or transit them. The size of the planet can be
derived from the change in the star's brightness.

The 28-member Kepler science team also is using ground-based
telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope and Spitzer Space Telescope
to perform follow-up observations on a specific set of 400 objects of
interest. The star field that Kepler observes in the constellations
Cygnus and Lyra can only be seen from ground-based observatories in
spring through early fall. The data from these other observations
will determine which of the candidates can be identified as planets.
That data will be released to the scientific community in February
2011.

Without the additional information, candidates that are actual planets
cannot be distinguished from false alarms, such as binary stars --
two stars that orbit each other. The size of the planetary candidates
also can be only approximated until the size of the stars they orbit
is determined from additional spectroscopic observations made by
ground-based telescopes.

"I look forward to the scientific community analyzing the data and
announcing new exoplanet results in the coming months," said Lia
LaPiana, Kepler's program executive at NASA Headquarters in
Washington.

"This is the most precise, nearly continuous, longest and largest data
set of stellar photometry ever," said Kepler Deputy Principal
Investigator David Koch of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett
Field, Calif. "The results will only get better as the duration of
the data set grows with time."

Kepler will continue conducting science operations until at least
November 2012, searching for planets as small as Earth, including
those that orbit stars in a warm habitable zone where liquid water
could exist on the surface of the planet. Since transits of planets
in the habitable zone of solar-like stars occur about once a year and
require three transits for verification, it is expected to take at
least three years to locate and verify an Earth-size planet.

"The Kepler observations will tell us whether there are many stars
with planets that could harbor life, or whether we might be alone in
our galaxy," said mission science principal investigator William
Borucki of Ames.

Ames is responsible for the ground system development, mission
operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed the Kepler mission
development. Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo.,
developed the Kepler flight system, and supports mission operations
with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the
University of Colorado, Boulder. The Space Telescope Science
Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler
science data.

To see the science data, visit:

http://archive.stsci.edu/kepler


For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 07/26/2010 03:18 AM
Lots of earth-size planets have been found by Kepler:
http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/920

http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/07/kepler-results.html#more
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chandonn on 07/26/2010 10:53 AM
Lots of earth-size planets have been found by Kepler:
http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/920

http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/07/kepler-results.html#more

CANDIDATES!  Not earth-size planets confirmed:

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/kepler-earth-like-exoplanets-100722.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 07/26/2010 02:39 PM
Lots of earth-size planets have been found by Kepler:
http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/920

http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/07/kepler-results.html#more

CANDIDATES!  Not earth-size planets confirmed:

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/kepler-earth-like-exoplanets-100722.html

You are right. But if you watch the presentation, he says that there is a lot more earth like candidates than Jupiter candidates. This is "earth-shattering" news in itself as it implies that Earth sized planets are very common.

There was also a paper on this published in June (see attached PDF):
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1006/1006.2799v2.pdf

Quote
Characteristics of Kepler planetary candidates based on the first data set: the majority are found to be Neptune-size and smaller

Abstract. In the spring of 2009, the Kepler Mission commenced high-precision photometry on nearly 156,000 stars to determine the frequency and characteristics of small exoplanets, conduct a guest observer program, and obtain asteroseismic data on a wide variety of stars. On 15 June 2010 the Kepler Mission released data from the first quarter of observations. At the time of this publication, 706 stars from this first data set have exoplanet candidates with sizes from as small as that of the Earth to larger than that of Jupiter. Here we give the identity and characteristics of 306 released stars with planetary candidates. Data for the remaining 400 stars with planetary candidates will be released in February 2011. Over half the candidates on the released list have radii less than half that of Jupiter. The released stars include five possible multi-planet systems. One of these has two Neptune-size (2.3 and 2.5 Earth-radius) candidates with near-resonant periods.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Space Pete on 07/28/2010 04:00 PM
Here's NASA's statement on the TED Talk.

Earth-size is not Earth-like: the TED Talk by Dimitar Sasselov.
Quote
Two weeks ago, I gave a talk at TED Global 2010 which was very well received, but caused confusion. I talked about Earth-like planets, which many people would equate to Earth-size and "habitable."

Earth-size and Earth-like is certainly not the same. Take the example of Venus, an Earth-size planet whose surface will melt lead. I understand that the term "Earth-like" was misleading to most of the media coverage. The Kepler mission is designed to discover Earth-size planets but it has not yet discovered any; at this time we have found only planet candidates.

The June 2010 Kepler data release with 306 candidates is an encouraging first step along the road to Kepler's ultimate goals, and specifically - the goal to determine the frequency of Earth-size planets in and near the habitable zone. However, these are candidates, not systems that have been verified sufficiently to be considered true planets. It will take more years of hard work to get to our goal, but we can do it.
www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/main/index.html

----------

NASA's Kepler Blog: "Planets large and small: the Kepler planetary candidates in my TED Talk".
http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/kepler/posts/post_1280268721769.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 07/30/2010 02:19 PM
Good article on Kepler:
http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1007/28kepler/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Space Pete on 08/01/2010 09:58 PM
An update:

NASA Watch: "NASA-Funded Apologist Blames Media for Kepler's Botched PR".
http://nasawatch.com/archives/2010/08/nasa-funded-apo.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jcm on 08/01/2010 11:31 PM
I think Keith is way over the top here, I mostly agree with Ray's article. I would defend Dimitar even more (disclaimer: he's a friend of mine). There is no formal definition of 'Earth-like', although I concede most of us would require some similarity of atmosphere as well as diameter. Nevertheless, I think what he said was totally fine, if not ideally phrased, and a lot of the fuss is because most science writers didn't read the papers that were published for all to see on astro-ph (http://arxiv.org/abs/1006.2799) on June 14, and thought Dimitar was saying something new. For NASA, the choice to not make a big song and dance about those papers and wait until they  have definite confirmation on some of the Earth-sized ones is arguable, but maybe fair enough. But those writing about astronomy should be reading astro-ph, not just NASA press releases. Sky and Telescope magazine, for instance (which I used to write for) has covered the papers in question.

So where are we? Of the 706 candidates, we cannot point to any particular one and say 'this is an Earth-sized planet'. Probably about a third of them are false positives and are really things like triple star systems (where two transits by far-out companion stars that happen to happen close together in time are confused with a close-in periodic planet) or grazing binary star transits (a small dip in the light because only a small bit of the second star hides the first). So you might worry that 99 percent of the 706 will turn out to be cases like that, and none of the candidates are real. You can predict that this is unlikely based on our (admittedly highly imperfect) knowledge of how common binaries and triple systems are, and on this basis we can now say with pretty good confidence that we've discovered that Earth-sized planets are more common than giant planets, even though we can't point you to any particular specific Earth-sized planet.

I think this is HUGE news and well worth getting excited about, and Dimitar and the Kepler team deserve our congratulations.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: iamlucky13 on 08/04/2010 07:38 PM
Debates about semantics like this have little value beyond the satisfaction some must feel at annoying people.

Saying "earth-like" was obviously confusing, but not inaccurate. Diameter and mass are properties that can be similar between planets, so to that end these candidates appear more like earth than all of the other extra-solar planets discovered to date.

But instead of a simple clarification like, "Exactly what did you mean by 'earth-like?" people are running around in circles blaming or defending Mr. Sasselov, the reporters who picked up on his presentation, and whoever else can be implicated.

People need to calm down and take this for what it is: an informal announcement that Kepler seems to be doing exactly what it was intended to do and generating a healthy list of planet candidates.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 08/23/2010 06:22 PM
MEDIA ADVISORY: M10-120

NASA TO ANNOUNCE LATEST FINDINGS BY KEPLER SPACECRAFT

WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a media teleconference Thursday, Aug. 26,
at 1 p.m. EDT to discuss the Kepler spacecraft's latest discovery
about an intriguing planetary system.

Kepler, a space observatory, looks for the data signatures of planets
by measuring tiny decreases in the brightness of stars when planets
cross in front of, or transit, them. In June, mission scientists
announced the mission has identified more than 700 planet candidates,
including five candidate systems that appear to have more than one
transiting planet.

Participating telecon panelists are:
-- Jon Morse, director, Science Mission Directorate Astrophysics
Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- William Borucki, Kepler Mission science principal investigator,
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
-- Matthew Holman, associate director, Theoretical Astrophysics
Division, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge,
Mass.
-- Alycia Weinberger, astronomer, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism,
Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington

To participate in the teleconference, reporters should e-mail J.D.
Harrington at j.d.harrington@nasa.gov by 11 a.m. EDT, Thursday, Aug.
26. Journalists must include their name, media affiliation and
telephone number. Supporting information for the briefing will be
posted at: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler when the telecon begins.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:
http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio


-end-

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: K-P on 08/24/2010 11:58 AM
Europeans got first!  ;)

http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1035/

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: rdale on 08/24/2010 12:03 PM
Well, the paper was published a few weeks ago so anyone watching knew even earlier :)

http://www.eso.org/public/archives/releases/sciencepapers/eso1035/eso1035.pdf
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 08/25/2010 04:31 AM
If I'm understanding that paper right, these planets were discovered by an instrument in the European observatory in Chile....is this Kepler announcement a followup to this discovery (using Kepler observations to confirm the findings?) or is this NASA press release a separate announcement of a system found elsewhere?

Edit with further thoughts: The Kepler spacecraft observes a spot of space in Cygnus and the star in the European announcement is very far south, close to the south celestial pole.  So Kepler wouldn't be able to follow up on that star.  Also, it's very interesting that one of the scientists mentioned in the press release studies terrestrial magnetism......I'm waiting for Thursday!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jcm on 08/25/2010 05:32 AM
  Also, it's very interesting that one of the scientists mentioned in the press release studies terrestrial magnetism......I'm waiting for Thursday!

No... the place Alycia works at is called the "Department of Terrestrial Magnetism" (part of the Carnegie foundation) but it has long had a group of astronomers who study things that are nothing to do with magnetism, terrestrial or otherwise. In fact I am not sure there's anyone at DTM doing geomagnetism nowadays. DTM is probably most famous to astronomers as the home of Vera Rubin, pioneer in dark matter studies. Alycia is an expert in circumstellar disks. among other things.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 08/26/2010 05:17 PM
Star with 2 (or possibly 3) planets found by Kepler:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/two_planet_orbit.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: TheFallen on 08/26/2010 06:09 PM
DARN the Europeans for discovering a better solar system!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 08/26/2010 06:55 PM
RELEASE: 10-197

NASA'S KEPLER MISSION DISCOVERS TWO PLANETS TRANSITING SAME STAR

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first
confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in
front of, or transiting, the same star.

The transit signatures of two distinct planets were seen in the data
for the sun-like star designated Kepler-9. The planets were named
Kepler-9b and 9c. The discovery incorporates seven months of
observations of more than 156,000 stars as part of an ongoing search
for Earth-sized planets outside our solar system. The findings will
be published in Thursday's issue of the journal Science.

Kepler's ultra-precise camera measures tiny decreases in the stars'
brightness that occur when a planet transits them. The size of the
planet can be derived from these temporary dips.

The distance of the planet from the star can be calculated by
measuring the time between successive dips as the planet orbits the
star. Small variations in the regularity of these dips can be used to
determine the masses of planets and detect other non-transiting
planets in the system.

In June, mission scientists submitted findings for peer review that
identified more than 700 planet candidates in the first 43 days of
Kepler data. The data included five additional candidate systems that
appear to exhibit more than one transiting planet. The Kepler team
recently identified a sixth target exhibiting multiple transits and
accumulated enough follow-up data to confirm this multi-planet
system.

"Kepler's high quality data and round-the-clock coverage of transiting
objects enable a whole host of unique measurements to be made of the
parent stars and their planetary systems," said Doug Hudgins, the
Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Scientists refined the estimates of the masses of the planets using
observations from the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The
observations show Kepler-9b is the larger of the two planets, and
both have masses similar to but less than Saturn. Kepler-9b lies
closest to the star with an orbit of about 19 days, while Kepler-9c
has an orbit of about 38 days. By observing several transits by each
planet over the seven months of data, the time between successive
transits could be analyzed.

"This discovery is the first clear detection of significant changes in
the intervals from one planetary transit to the next, what we call
transit timing variations," said Matthew Holman, a Kepler mission
scientist from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in
Cambridge, Mass. "This is evidence of the gravitational interaction
between the two planets as seen by the Kepler spacecraft."

In addition to the two confirmed giant planets, Kepler scientists also
have identified what appears to be a third, much smaller transit
signature in the observations of Kepler-9. That signature is
consistent with the transits of a super-Earth-sized planet about 1.5
times the radius of Earth in a scorching, near-sun 1.6 day-orbit.
Additional observations are required to determine whether this signal
is indeed a planet or an astronomical phenomenon that mimics the
appearance of a transit.

NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages Kepler's
ground system development, mission operations and science data
analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.,
managed Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the
Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of
Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in
Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: John44 on 08/26/2010 09:02 PM
NASA Media Briefing - new findings from the Kepler Telescope - Aug. 26
http://www.space-multimedia.nl.eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6118
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Space Pete on 08/26/2010 10:32 PM
NASA TV Video: "First Multi-Planet System Discovered by Kepler".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxjffeDfpgQ
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chris Bergin on 08/27/2010 03:50 AM
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/08/kepler-results-ramps-up-search-extra-solar-planets/

By Chris Gebhardt.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: simonbp on 08/27/2010 03:59 AM
Apparently, this leaked yesterday as a single line:

O . 0 0
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 08/27/2010 02:54 PM
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/08/kepler-results-ramps-up-search-extra-solar-planets/

By Chris Gebhardt.

Good article.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: KSC Engineer on 08/27/2010 04:42 PM
I guess this means we are no longer the center of the Universe or a least a good indication of that.  Darn - it was fun thinking we were the big shots.  My friends in Boston still believe they are the center of the Universe so this may hurt their egos as some point. 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 08/27/2010 05:01 PM
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/08/kepler-results-ramps-up-search-extra-solar-planets/

By Chris Gebhardt.

Great article, good work Chris G
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ratman on 08/27/2010 07:19 PM
Excellent summary, great job.

Quote
This area of observation yields approximately 156,000 stars ...
In fact, the odds of Kepler detecting a terrestrial planet in or near the habitable zone of an observed star are 1 in 210. This means that if every star Kepler observed contained an Earth-like, terrestrial planet that orbited its parent star at roughly the same distance as Earth orbits the sun (and if that terrestrial planet was similar in size to Earth) Kepler would detect a total of 480 terrestrial planets in its three and a half year mission.

Er... 156,000/210 ~ 743   ;)

Perhaps the following explanation is missing ?
Quote
Because grazing transits are not easily detected, those with a duration less than half of a central transit are ignored.
http://kepler.nasa.gov/Science/characteristicsOfTransits/

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 08/27/2010 11:14 PM
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/08/kepler-results-ramps-up-search-extra-solar-planets/

By Chris Gebhardt.

Good article.

Agreed, very good.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 08/27/2010 11:57 PM
Agreed! Good article. I look forward to more of these sorts of excellent articles!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 08/28/2010 05:53 AM
Quote
This area of observation yields approximately 156,000 stars ...
In fact, the odds of Kepler detecting a terrestrial planet in or near the habitable zone of an observed star are 1 in 210. This means that if every star Kepler observed contained an Earth-like, terrestrial planet that orbited its parent star at roughly the same distance as Earth orbits the sun (and if that terrestrial planet was similar in size to Earth) Kepler would detect a total of 480 terrestrial planets in its three and a half year mission.

It's just a tad unfair building expectation like that without clarification, this obviously won't happen because It's highly unlikely earth-size planets in the habitable zone are present around most or even the majority of stars.

For a better idea of how many Kepler can expect to find,

http://www.seti.org/Page.aspx?pid=673

Quote
What will Kepler find? That's the exciting part, because we don't know. Borucki has estimated that if Earth-sized planets are common, the mission will uncover roughly 50 of them in orbits comparable to our own.

I have a funny feeling even if Kepler finds 100 we'll still get "Kepler finds less earth's than expected"  ::) 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jcm on 08/29/2010 10:25 PM
I guess this means we are no longer the center of the Universe or a least a good indication of that.  Darn - it was fun thinking we were the big shots.  My friends in Boston still believe they are the center of the Universe so this may hurt their egos as some point. 

That's "hub of the Universe", if you please!
In relativity, Harvard Square is a perfectly valid choice of coordinate origin ;-)   (we recall the quote, I think from Einstein: time is what stops everything happening at once; space is what stops everything happening in Cambridge.)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 08/31/2010 08:49 PM
This is very exciting. It seems to me that it's a statistical near-certainty that an Earth-like planet (i.e. Earth-like radius and mass and in the habitable zone) will be found in the next three years (and possibly within the next year or so!). The sheer numbers of Kepler ensures that something like that will be found soon.




In fact, there's a very, very good chance that a planet will be found in the Alpha Centauri system! Whether or not it will be habitable remains to be seen............... (Of course, Kepler won't answer this question, at least not directly.)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 10/04/2010 06:48 PM
RELEASE: 10-245

NASA'S KEPLER MISSION WINS 2010 SOFTWARE OF THE YEAR AWARD

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Kepler mission Science Operations Center software
system was named winner of the 2010 NASA Software of the Year Award
by the NASA Software Advisory Panel.

Designed, developed and operated by the Kepler Science Operations
Center (SOC) at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.,
the SOC software system is used to find Earth-size planets using
photometric data acquired from the Kepler spacecraft.
The SOC software system is a suite of 22 custom-designed tools for
processing, analyzing, and storing transit photometry and engineering
data for the Kepler Mission. The Kepler mission is the first NASA
mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in the "habitable
zone," the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist
on the surface of the orbiting planet.

Kepler is a space observatory that looks for the data signatures of
planets by measuring tiny decreases in stars' brightness when planets
cross in front of, or transit them. The size of the planet can be
derived from the change in the star's brightness.

On June 15, the Kepler mission released data that could double the
amount of known planets outside of the solar system. Of the 165,000
stars that the Kepler mission has been monitoring for planetary
transits, approximately 750 of them reveal planetary candidates. All
of these discoveries were made possible by the SOC software system
and the team that developed and manages it.

"Their outstanding work has made a significant and lasting
contribution to Ames' technology
development portfolio and to NASA's leadership in astronomical
research," said Ames Director S. Pete Worden. "I am absolutely
delighted that the NASA Kepler Science Operations Center has been
honored with this prestigious award. As a center, we have enjoyed
great success in previous NASA Software of the Year competitions, and
this award adds to our proud legacy."

Ames has won or been a co-winner of the NASA Software of the Year
award nine times since it was initiated in 1994. For this year's
award, there were two runner ups - LEWis ICE accretion program
(LEWICE), Version 3.2.2 from NASA's Glenn Research Center in
Cleveland and International Polar Orbiter Processing Package (IPOPP)
from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

A formal ceremony to present the 2010 Software of the Year award will
be held Feb. 9-10, 2011 at the NASA Project Management Challenge
Conference in Long Beach, Calif.

The Office of Safety and Mission Assurance and the Chief Information
Officer sponsor the NASA Software of the Year Competition to identify
innovative software technologies that significantly improve the
agency's exploration of space and maximize scientific discovery on
Earth. A NASA Software Advisory Panel assesses and ranks entries and
reports its findings to NASA's Inventions and Contributions Board.

Ames is responsible for the ground system development, mission
operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed the Kepler mission
development. Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo.,
developed the Kepler flight system, and supports mission operations
with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the
University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science
Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler
science data.

For more information about Kepler, visit:



http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Space Pete on 10/23/2010 06:19 PM
International Team Of Astronomers To Discuss Kepler Findings.

The Kepler Asteroseismic Science Consortium (KASC) at Aarhus University in Denmark will hold a media teleconference on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 11 a.m. EDT to discuss the latest discoveries about stars and their structures using data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft.

Kepler, an observatory launched in March 2009, is designed to search for Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. NASA and the KASC developed a joint collaboration to further our understanding of the structure and evolution of stars.

NASA's science team uses Kepler data to search for exoplanets, planets outside of the solar system. KASC uses it to investigate the astrophysics of stars. By using the natural pulse of stellar light waves, the research team has examined and characterized thousands of stars, thereby gaining new insights into stellar structure and evolution.

To participate in the teleconference, reporters should e-mail Thomas Sorensen at ths@adm.au.dk by 8 a.m. EDT on Oct. 26. Journalists must include their name, media affiliation and telephone number. At the beginning of the telecon, supporting information will be posted at:
http://astro.phys.au.dk/KASC

The panelists are:
-- Natalie Batalha, professor of physics and astronomy, San Jose State
    University, California and co-investigator on NASA's Kepler Mission.
-- Hans Kjeldsen, associate professor, KASC, Aarhus University, Denmark.
-- Travis S. Metcalfe, scientist at The National Center for Atmospheric
    Research, Boulder, Colorado.
-- Daniel Huber, Ph.D. student, University of Sydney, Australia.
-- Thomas Kallinger, postdoctoral student, Universities of British
    Columbia, Canada.
-- Katrien Kolenberg, postdoctoral student, Institute of Astronomy in
    Vienna, Austria.
-- Steven Bloemen, Ph.D. student, Instituut voor Sterrenkunde,
    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:
www.nasa.gov/newsaudio


www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/oct/HQ_M10-150_Kepler_Update.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 10/26/2010 10:19 PM
RELEASE: 10-276

NASA'S KEPLER SPACECRAFT TAKES PULSE OF DISTANT STARS

WASHINGTON -- An international cadre of scientists that used data from
NASA's Kepler spacecraft announced Tuesday the detection of stellar
oscillations, or "starquakes," that yield new insights about the
size, age and evolution of stars.

The results were presented at a news conference at Aarhus University
in Denmark by scientists representing the Kepler Asteroseismic
Science Consortium (KASC). The team studied thousands of stars
observed by Kepler, releasing what amounts to a roster of some of
humanity's most well-characterized stars.

Analysis of stellar oscillations is similar to how seismologists study
earthquakes to probe the Earth's interior. This branch of science,
called astroseismology, produces measurements of stars the Kepler
science team is anxious to have.

"Using the unparalleled data provided by Kepler, KASC scientists are
quite literally revolutionizing our understanding of stars and their
structures," said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler Program Scientist at NASA
Headquarters in Washington. "What's more, they are doing so at no
cost to the American taxpayer. All the KASC scientists are supported
by research funding from their home countries. It is a perfect
illustration of the tremendous value that our international partners
bring to NASA missions."

In the results presented Tuesday, one oscillating star took center
stage: KIC 11026764 has the most accurately known properties of any
star in the Kepler field. In fact, few stars in the universe are
known to similar accuracy. At an age of 5.94 billion years, it has
grown to a little over twice the diameter of the sun and will
continue to do so as it transforms into a red giant. The oscillations
reveal that this star is powered by hydrogen fusion in a thin shell
around a helium-rich core.

"We are just about to enter a new area in stellar astrophysics," said
Thomas Kallinger, lead author on a study of red giant stars and
postdoctoral fellow at the Universities of British Columbia and
Vienna. "Kepler provides us with data of such good quality that they
will change our view of how stars work in detail."

KASC scientists also reported on the star RR Lyrae. It has been
studied for more than 100 years as the first member of an important
class of stars used to measure cosmological distances. The
brightness, or light wave amplitude, of the star oscillates within a
well-known period of about 13.5 hours. Yet during that period, other
small cyclic changes in amplitude occur -- behavior known as the
Blazhko effect.

The effect has puzzled astronomers for decades, but thanks to Kepler
data, scientists may have a clue as to its origin. Kepler
observations revealed an additional oscillation period that had never
been previously detected. The oscillation occurs with a time scale
twice as long as the 13.5-hour period. The Kepler data indicates the
doubling is linked to the Blazhko effect.

"Kepler data ultimately will give us a better understanding of the
future of our sun and the evolution of our galaxy as a whole," said
Daniel Huber, lead author on one of the KASC studies.

Launched in March 2009, Kepler was designed to discover Earth-size
planets orbiting other stars. The spacecraft uses a huge digital
camera, known as a photometer, to continuously monitor the brightness
of more than 150,000 stars in its field of view as it orbits around
the sun. Kepler searches for distant worlds by looking for
"transits," when a planet passes in front of a star, briefly causing
it to dim. The amount of dimming reveals the size of the planet
compared to the size of the star.

For more information about the findings by the KASC scientists, visit:



http://astro.phys.au.dk/KASC/


For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:


http://www.nasa.gov/kepler 

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 01/10/2011 06:03 PM
RELEASE: 11-007

NASA'S KEPLER MISSION DISCOVERS ITS FIRST ROCKY PLANET

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Kepler mission confirmed the discovery of its
first rocky planet, named Kepler-10b. Measuring 1.4 times the size of
Earth, it is the smallest planet ever discovered outside our solar
system.

The discovery of this so-called exoplanet is based on more than eight
months of data collected by the spacecraft from May 2009 to early
January 2010.

"All of Kepler's best capabilities have converged to yield the first
solid evidence of a rocky planet orbiting a star other than our sun,"
said Natalie Batalha, Kepler's deputy science team lead at NASA's
Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and primary author of
a paper on the discovery accepted by the Astrophysical Journal. "The
Kepler team made a commitment in 2010 about finding the telltale
signatures of small planets in the data, and it's beginning to pay
off."

Kepler's ultra-precise photometer measures the tiny decrease in a
star's brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it.
The size of the planet can be derived from these periodic dips in
brightness. The distance between the planet and the star is
calculated by measuring the time between successive dips as the
planet orbits the star.

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets
in or near the habitable zone, the region in a planetary system where
liquid water can exist on the planet's surface. However, since it
orbits once every 0.84 days, Kepler-10b is more than 20 times closer
to its star than Mercury is to our sun and not in the habitable zone.


Kepler-10 was the first star identified that could potentially harbor
a small transiting planet, placing it at the top of the list for
ground-based observations with the W.M. Keck Observatory 10-meter
telescope in Hawaii.

Scientists waiting for a signal to confirm Kepler-10b as a planet were
not disappointed. Keck was able to measure tiny changes in the star's
spectrum, called Doppler shifts, caused by the telltale tug exerted
by the orbiting planet on the star.

"The discovery of Kepler 10-b is a significant milestone in the search
for planets similar to our own," said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program
scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Although this planet
is not in the habitable zone, the exciting find showcases the kinds
of discoveries made possible by the mission and the promise of many
more to come," he said.

Knowledge of the planet is only as good as the knowledge of the star
it orbits. Because Kepler-10 is one of the brighter stars being
targeted by Kepler, scientists were able to detect high frequency
variations in the star's brightness generated by stellar
oscillations, or starquakes. This analysis allowed scientists to pin
down Kepler-10b's properties.

There is a clear signal in the data arising from light waves that
travel within the interior of the star. Kepler Asteroseismic Science
Consortium scientists use the information to better understand the
star, just as earthquakes are used to learn about Earth's interior
structure. As a result of this analysis, Kepler-10 is one of the most
well characterized planet-hosting stars in the universe.

That's good news for the team studying Kepler-10b. Accurate stellar
properties yield accurate planet properties. In the case of
Kepler-10b, the picture that emerges is of a rocky planet with a mass
4.6 times that of Earth and with an average density of 8.8 grams per
cubic centimeter -- similar to that of an iron dumbbell.

Ames manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations
and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the
Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of
Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in
Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data.

Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's
Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters. For more
information about the Kepler mission, visit:



http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/10/2011 06:38 PM
What does the light curve look like?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: TheFallen on 01/27/2011 05:30 PM
NASA To Announce New Planetary Discoveries on February 2nd

News briefing about the Kepler mission will be held that day at 1 PM, EST.

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/jan/HQ_M11-020_Kepler.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 02/02/2011 01:11 PM
A quick peek before the announcement today:

1,000 possible new planets found
90 per cent of discoveries by Kepler telescope expected to be verified as planets

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2011/02/02/science-space-kepler-planets.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 02/02/2011 01:21 PM
A quick peek before the announcement today:

1,000 possible new planets found
90 per cent of discoveries by Kepler telescope expected to be verified as planets

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2011/02/02/science-space-kepler-planets.html

Thanks Robertross - this is truly great news if accurate...
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: John44 on 02/02/2011 07:10 PM
NASA Science News Conference - Kepler Discovery
http://www.space-multimedia.nl.eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6424
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 02/02/2011 07:21 PM
I missed the briefing so thank you very much for that, John.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 02/02/2011 08:03 PM

Feb. 02, 2011 RELEASE : 11-030 

NASA Finds Earth-Size Planet Candidates In Habitable Zone, Six Planet System   

WASHINGTON -- NASA's Kepler mission has discovered its first Earth-size planet candidates and its first candidates in the habitable zone, a region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Five of the potential planets are near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of smaller, cooler stars than our sun.

Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets. Kepler also found six confirmed planets orbiting a sun-like star, Kepler-11. This is the largest group of transiting planets orbiting a single star yet discovered outside our solar system.

"In one generation we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction, to the present, where Kepler has helped turn science fiction into today's reality," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "These discoveries underscore the importance of NASA's science missions, which consistently increase understanding of our place in the cosmos."

The discoveries are part of several hundred new planet candidates identified in new Kepler mission science data, released on Tuesday, Feb. 1. The findings increase the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date to 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 are the size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter.

Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized. The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size -- up to twice the size of Earth -- to larger than Jupiter.

The findings are based on the results of observations conducted May 12 to Sept. 17, 2009, of more than 156,000 stars in Kepler's field of view, which covers approximately 1/400 of the sky.

"The fact that we've found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting sun-like stars in our galaxy," said William Borucki of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., the mission's science principal investigator. "We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone, some of which could have moons with liquid water."

Among the stars with planetary candidates, 170 show evidence of multiple planetary candidates. Kepler-11, located approximately 2,000 light years from Earth, is the most tightly packed planetary system yet discovered. All six of its confirmed planets have orbits smaller than Venus, and five of the six have orbits smaller than Mercury's. The only other star with more than one confirmed transiting planet is Kepler-9, which has three. The Kepler-11 findings will be published in the Feb. 3 issue of the journal Nature.

"Kepler-11 is a remarkable system whose architecture and dynamics provide clues about its formation," said Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist and Kepler science team member at Ames. "These six planets are mixtures of rock and gases, possibly including water. The rocky material accounts for most of the planets' mass, while the gas takes up most of their volume. By measuring the sizes and masses of the five inner planets, we determined they are among the lowest mass confirmed planets beyond our solar system."

All of the planets orbiting Kepler-11 are larger than Earth, with the largest ones being comparable in size to Uranus and Neptune. The innermost planet, Kepler-11b, is ten times closer to its star than Earth is to the sun. Moving outward, the other planets are Kepler-11c, Kepler-11d, Kepler-11e, Kepler-11f, and the outermost planet, Kepler-11g, which is half as far from its star as Earth is from the sun.

The planets Kepler-11d, Kepler-11e and Kepler-11f have a significant amount of light gas, which indicates that they formed within a few million years of the system's formation.

"The historic milestones Kepler makes with each new discovery will determine the course of every exoplanet mission to follow," said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Kepler, a space telescope, looks for planet signatures by measuring tiny decreases in the brightness of stars caused by planets crossing in front of them. This is known as a transit.

Since transits of planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars occur about once a year and require three transits for verification, it is expected to take three years to locate and verify Earth-size planets orbiting sun-like stars.

The Kepler science team uses ground-based telescopes and the Spitzer Space Telescope to review observations on planetary candidates and other objects of interest the spacecraft finds.

The star field that Kepler observes in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra can only be seen from ground-based observatories in spring through early fall. The data from these other observations help determine which candidates can be validated as planets.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler   
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/02/2011 09:28 PM
Wow...
A near-Earth-mass planet in the habitable zone... This day was inevitable and now it has come!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 02/02/2011 09:30 PM
"In one generation we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction, to the present, where Kepler has helped turn science fiction into today's reality," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "These discoveries underscore the importance of NASA's science missions, which consistently increase understanding of our place in the cosmos."

One of the best quotes I've heard from Bolden yet.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Nittany Lion on 02/02/2011 09:48 PM
I’m trying to get an intellectual handle on the number of candidate exoplanets being reported by Kepler. Maybe someone here can help.

Here are the issues;

(1) Kepler is observing an area of the sky 10 degrees by 10 degrees, so about one-four hundredth of the whole celestial sphere.

(2) Kepler currently has had a sufficient observing interval to observe exoplanets with revolving periods up to four months. The habitable zone extends to something like revolving periods of eighteen months. So currently Kepler has observed for say one-fourth of the time required to observe all potentially habitable exoplanets.

That’s the easy part. Now;

(3) The transit technique used by Kepler requires that the plane of the exoplanets’s orbit must include the line of sight between the Earth and the star the exoplanet orbits.

Given that even very large and very close stars subtend very small angles when observed from Earth and most stars are effectively point sources, what proportion of exoplanet orbits satisfy the planar requirement described above?

I’m thinking that proportion is between one in one thousand, and one in one hundred thousand.

So the Kepler candidate count announced today needs to be multiplied by between (400)(4)(1,000) = 1,600,000 and (400)(4)(100,000) = 160,0000,000.

And the total number of exoplanet candidates orbiting within the habitable zone or closer would be between (1,600,000)(1,250) = 2 billion and (160,0000,000)(1,250) = 200 billion, all with about 2000 light-years!

Thoughts?

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/02/2011 10:25 PM
....
(2) Kepler currently has had a sufficient observing interval to observe exoplanets with revolving periods up to four months. The habitable zone extends to something like revolving periods of eighteen months. So currently Kepler has observed for say one-fourth of the time required to observe all potentially habitable exoplanets.
...
Three transits are required for sure detection of an exoplanet, so for detecting Earth from far away using  Kepler's techniques would require between 24 and 36 months (plus the good fortune of your detector being in plane with the star system's Ecliptic).

Stars smaller (or much smaller) than the Sun have a habitable zone closer (or much closer) in. Those are the sort of stars around which Kepler has found planets in the habitable zone since Kepler has only been operating for about 22 months. I.e. Red dwarfs.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Nittany Lion on 02/02/2011 11:10 PM
....
(2) Kepler currently has had a sufficient observing interval to observe exoplanets with revolving periods up to four months. The habitable zone extends to something like revolving periods of eighteen months. So currently Kepler has observed for say one-fourth of the time required to observe all potentially habitable exoplanets.
...
Three transits are required for sure detection of an exoplanet, so for detecting Earth from far away using  Kepler's techniques would require between 24 and 36 months (plus the good fortune of your detector being in plane with the star system's Ecliptic).

Stars smaller (or much smaller) than the Sun have a habitable zone closer (or much closer) in. Those are the sort of stars around which Kepler has found planets in the habitable zone since Kepler has only been operating for about 22 months. I.e. Red dwarfs.

"plus the good fortune of your detector being in plane with the star system's Ecliptic"

Thus my point (3) which is the dominating effect in the calculation.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: kkattula on 02/03/2011 12:58 AM

"plus the good fortune of your detector being in plane with the star system's Ecliptic"

Thus my point (3) which is the dominating effect in the calculation.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler_(spacecraft)#Objectives_and_methods

Quote
The probability of a random planetary orbit being along the line-of-sight to a star is the diameter of the star divided by the diameter of the orbit.[16] For an Earth-like planet at 1 AU transiting a Sol-like star the probability is 0.465%, or about 1 in 215. At 0.72 AU (the orbital distance of Venus) the probability is slightly larger, at 0.65%; such planets could be Earth-like if the host star is a late G-type star such as Tau Ceti. In addition, because planets in a given system tend to orbit in similar planes, the possibility of multiple detections around a single star is actually rather high. For instance, if an alien Kepler-like mission observed Earth transiting the Sun, there is a 12% chance of also seeing Venus transit.

16  David Koch; Alan Gould (March 2009). "Kepler Mission: Characteristics of Transits (section “Geometric Probability”)". NASA. http://jwleaf.org/docs/probability-of-planetary-transit.html. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 


Edit: References.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Nittany Lion on 02/03/2011 01:41 AM

"plus the good fortune of your detector being in plane with the star system's Ecliptic"

Thus my point (3) which is the dominating effect in the calculation.


Quote
The probability of a random planetary orbit being along the line-of-sight to a star is the diameter of the star divided by the diameter of the orbit.[16] For an Earth-like planet at 1 AU transiting a Sol-like star the probability is 0.465%, or about 1 in 215. At 0.72 AU (the orbital distance of Venus) the probability is slightly larger, at 0.65%; such planets could be Earth-like if the host star is a late G-type star such as Tau Ceti. In addition, because planets in a given system tend to orbit in similar planes, the possibility of multiple detections around a single star is actually rather high. For instance, if an alien Kepler-like mission observed Earth transiting the Sun, there is a 12% chance of also seeing Venus transit.

Could you provide the source of that quote and the cited [16] reference?

Although the quote indicates it is answering my planar question, the process seems to be describing the probability of observing a transit of an exoplanet whose orbit is already in the required orientation, i.e., the ratio of the star’s diameter to the orbit’s diameter. It strikes me that this is a two dimensional answer to a three dimensional problem.

And the probability seems high.

I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’d just like to pursue it further.

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/03/2011 02:33 AM

"plus the good fortune of your detector being in plane with the star system's Ecliptic"

Thus my point (3) which is the dominating effect in the calculation.


Quote
The probability of a random planetary orbit being along the line-of-sight to a star is the diameter of the star divided by the diameter of the orbit.[16] For an Earth-like planet at 1 AU transiting a Sol-like star the probability is 0.465%, or about 1 in 215. At 0.72 AU (the orbital distance of Venus) the probability is slightly larger, at 0.65%; such planets could be Earth-like if the host star is a late G-type star such as Tau Ceti. In addition, because planets in a given system tend to orbit in similar planes, the possibility of multiple detections around a single star is actually rather high. For instance, if an alien Kepler-like mission observed Earth transiting the Sun, there is a 12% chance of also seeing Venus transit.

Could you provide the source of that quote and the cited [16] reference?

Although the quote indicates it is answering my planar question, the process seems to be describing the probability of observing a transit of an exoplanet whose orbit is already in the required orientation, i.e., the ratio of the star’s diameter to the orbit’s diameter. It strikes me that this is a two dimensional answer to a three dimensional problem.

And the probability seems high.

I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’d just like to pursue it further.


It is a two-dimensional problem, since your distance to the star doesn't really matter (as long as you're not within the star system itself)... Well, actually, if you look at the system through a full orbit of the planet or more, then it's actually a one-dimensional problem.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: kkattula on 02/03/2011 05:58 AM
Added references to my previous post.

The thing is, a star is not a point source. It's big. Really big.

This diagram shows something like a super-Jupiter at .15 AU from a Sol like star.  Any observer anywhere in the arc a, as it rotates 360 deg around the star, will observe a transit.

Even if the planet is tiny, the arc doesn't change much. The intersection point is effectively at the planet's orbital radius

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Nittany Lion on 02/03/2011 03:08 PM
Added references to my previous post.

The thing is, a star is not a point source. It's big. Really big.

This diagram shows something like a super-Jupiter at .15 AU from a Sol like star.  Any observer anywhere in the arc a, as it rotates 360 deg around the star, will observe a transit.

Even if the planet is tiny, the arc doesn't change much. The intersection point is effectively at the planet's orbital radius




Thank you for the references! The calculations are clearly correct and the probability of detection is much higher than I imagined. I think I’m handicapped by having a rectangular coordinate brain trying to deal with a spherical coordinate problem.

Great notation d* (“d star”) for the diameter of the star!

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Malderi on 02/03/2011 03:24 PM
Keep in mind also, that Kepler is looking in a direction in which it expected to find many stars with possible planets - it's looking down the spiral arm of the Milky Way. So just saying that it's taking 1/400 of the sky, and so multiplying discoveries by 400, is definitely a high upper bound. If it was looking perpendicular to the galactic plane, it wouldn't be seeing nearly as many stars.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Nittany Lion on 02/03/2011 03:53 PM
Keep in mind also, that Kepler is looking in a direction in which it expected to find many stars with possible planets - it's looking down the spiral arm of the Milky Way. So just saying that it's taking 1/400 of the sky, and so multiplying discoveries by 400, is definitely a high upper bound. If it was looking perpendicular to the galactic plane, it wouldn't be seeing nearly as many stars.

Yes. They obviously picked the most fertile part of the sky, probably subject to some operational constraints.

I didn’t mention this is my original post but I was thinking that my numbers would be conservative since I wasn’t considering likely moons of the exoplanets.


Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chandonn on 02/03/2011 03:59 PM
wrt moons:  I've always assumed a terrestrial moon orbiting a jovian planet would be washed in too much radiation from the planet for life to exist.  Is this not the case?  (I notice a lot of reference to possible terrestrial moons in the Kepler press releases)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 02/03/2011 04:20 PM
wrt moons:  I've always assumed a terrestrial moon orbiting a jovian planet would be washed in too much radiation from the planet for life to exist.  Is this not the case?  (I notice a lot of reference to possible terrestrial moons in the Kepler press releases)

Depends on the orbital distance. Callisto for example isn't as strongly hammered by radiation as the inner 3 Galileans are.

Having an atmosphere would also help protect the surface, but that would require for the moon to be on the largish side (Titan doesn't count as it couldn't retain that atmosphere at temperatures at which water is liquid). Then again, seeing how vastly different kinds of planets we're finding, what's to say a big Jovian analog couldn't have a Mars or Earth sized moon?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 02/03/2011 04:25 PM
Then again, seeing how vastly different kinds of planets we're finding, what's to say a big Jovian analog couldn't have a Mars or Earth sized moon?
Indeed. Exo-planetary systems seem to deliver a "who ordered this!?!" moment pretty much every time our observing ability improves. It would seem premature to rule much of anything out.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/03/2011 04:32 PM
Then again, seeing how vastly different kinds of planets we're finding, what's to say a big Jovian analog couldn't have a Mars or Earth sized moon?
Indeed. Exo-planetary systems seem to deliver a "who ordered this!?!" moment pretty much every time our observing ability improves. It would seem premature to rule much of anything out.
Agreed! It's such an exciting time in astronomy right now!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: copernicus on 02/04/2011 03:55 AM
   I agree with Robotbeat that it is an exciting time now in astronomy.  However, sadly, NASA has just recently canceled its next ExoPlanet mission.  This is the Space Interferometry Mission, or SIM.  It is a space telescope designed to detect NEARBY Earth clones, within 10-20 Light-years.  I find the Kepler discoveries to be thrilling, but the worlds that it is detecting are located 2,000 Light-Years away!  That is much too far for follow-up missions to detect an atmosphere or to determine surface characteristics. 
   By contrast, SIM would provide a list of nearby targets for future space observatories.  Because SIM's ExoPlanets would be so close, follow-up missions will be able to determine atmospheric composition, the presence of oceans, and the spectral signature of chlorophyll.  However, with SIM's cancelation, NASA's ExoPlanet Exploration Program will essentially end, once Kepler's mission is over. 
   If you want to voice your opposition to SIM's cancelation, please visit this online petition site  - 

  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-SIM-Earth-Finder/ 


  In addition, I have a blog dedicated to SIM at  - 

  http://savesim.blogspot.com/


Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: bbliss on 02/10/2011 12:18 AM
   I agree with Robotbeat that it is an exciting time now in astronomy.  However, sadly, NASA has just recently canceled its next ExoPlanet mission.  This is the Space Interferometry Mission, or SIM.  It is a space telescope designed to detect NEARBY Earth clones, within 10-20 Light-years.  I find the Kepler discoveries to be thrilling, but the worlds that it is detecting are located 2,000 Light-Years away!  That is much too far for follow-up missions to detect an atmosphere or to determine surface characteristics. 
   By contrast, SIM would provide a list of nearby targets for future space observatories.  Because SIM's ExoPlanets would be so close, follow-up missions will be able to determine atmospheric composition, the presence of oceans, and the spectral signature of chlorophyll.  However, with SIM's cancelation, NASA's ExoPlanet Exploration Program will essentially end, once Kepler's mission is over. 
   If you want to voice your opposition to SIM's cancelation, please visit this online petition site  - 

  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-SIM-Earth-Finder/ 


  In addition, I have a blog dedicated to SIM at  - 

  http://savesim.blogspot.com/




Without passing judgment at all on any of the above (as I'm generally in agreement with these stated motivations), I would note that I've personally never seen an online petition do any good at all, for any cause, ever.

I would, as politely as possible, instead suggest calling (or, better yet, writing mail on paper! to) your local, state, and federal elected representatives, as well as the top-and-middle-level hierarchies at NASA, and letting them know how you feel.  The Science Mission Directorate at NASA is actually pretty well-funded right now (AFAIK), so it should just be a matter of re-prioritization of already-authorized funds.  I don't know if that would then take funds from e.g. JWST or other worthwhile scientific missions that NASA is working on, but the long slow slide to cancellation has been going on for three or four years now.

At the very least, a bunch of people politely emailing Dr. Weiler's deputies might give a clearer picture about why SIM Lite got cancelled, and what other programs might be using that funding instead.

(edited - for those who are interested, the cancellation is explained on the linked site as follows:
"As most know by now, the Astro2010 Decadal Survey (available at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/bpa/BPA_049810) did not recommend SIM Lite for development this decade. The EOS Program Prioritization Panel did recommend SIM Lite as a candidate for consideration in competition with other exoplanet mission concepts at a suggested mid-decade concept consideration opportunity that is yet to be defined in detail.
Given the Astro2010 recommendation, NASA’s Director for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Dr. Jon Morse, sent the project a letter on September 24, 2010 withdrawing NASA sponsorship of SIM Lite and directing the project to discontinue Phase B activities immediately or as soon as practical.
The SIM Lite project is currently in the process of implementing this direction: archiving project information; disposing of testbeds and prototype hardware; and reassigning personnel. These activities will be completed no later than December 31, 2010."
It sounds like the Astro2010 panel prefers to devote money to questions of astronomy, physics, and basic research, without much funding left for planet-hunting.)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 03/19/2011 03:14 PM
Kepler Mission Manager Update - Safe Mode Event March 15, 2011

During a planned contact on March 14, the Kepler spacecraft experienced a safe mode event. A safe mode is a self-protective measure that the spacecraft takes when something unexpected occurs. During safe mode, the spacecraft points the solar panels directly at the sun and begins to slowly rotate along a sun-aligned axis. This safe mode orientation provides the vehicle with the maximum power and limits the buildup of momentum from solar wind. The spacecraft also swapped to its backup subsystem interface box (SIB), an electronics component that controls power distribution to all spacecraft subsystems, and powered off the photometer, the instrument used to measure light intensity to detect planets. This is a normal procedure when a safe mode is entered.

The anomaly occurred immediately after the network interface card (NIC) reset command was issued to implement a firmware update. The NIC is a key component of the SIB and supports the SIB’s functions. The SIB performs power control and distribution, and thermal control; it interfaces to the attitude determination and control subsystem and to the reaction control subsystem. The update to the NIC firmware has been in development since January and is designed to mitigate the effects of the coarse sun sensor noise discovered late last year. Coarse sun sensors assist in providing spacecraft orientation.

Shortly after the safe mode entry, the team analyzed the spacecraft data and determined all subsystems remained healthy. During recovery actions, the Deep Space Network was used to downlink telemetry and began recovery of files to assist in the anomaly analysis. The team has since successfully reinitiated power to the primary SIB, confirmed its health and status, and also verified the new version of the NIC firmware had loaded correctly, and passed a health and safety check.

The star trackers have been powered on and the spacecraft has been commanded to standby orientation, with solar arrays aligned toward the sun and Kepler pointed to ecliptic north. Updates will be posted as the team makes progress in the recovery.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20110315.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Malderi on 03/21/2011 06:36 PM
Question about the safe mode issue:

How does this affect the science? Since they've powered off the sensors, they're not detecting transits. Say there was a planet transiting on a six month period. We'd see it six months ago, miss it now, and then see it six months from now, then a year from now. It must also affect the general calculations of planetary frequency on a galactic level because we're missing other transits because of safe-mode events like this.

Is this sort of thing quantified? Is there something I'm missing as to how this is handled?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 03/21/2011 06:40 PM
Question about the safe mode issue:

How does this affect the science? Since they've powered off the sensors, they're not detecting transits. Say there was a planet transiting on a six month period. We'd see it six months ago, miss it now, and then see it six months from now, then a year from now. It must also affect the general calculations of planetary frequency on a galactic level because we're missing other transits because of safe-mode events like this.

Is this sort of thing quantified? Is there something I'm missing as to how this is handled?
Remember, we are only catching a fraction of the exoplanets out there, anyways. Kepler is best for statistical understandings, not for seeing conclusively if there is or isn't an exoplanet around the star Zebulon 85.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 03/21/2011 06:49 PM
Is this sort of thing quantified? Is there something I'm missing as to how this is handled?
The mission is planned with the expectation there will be be some percentage of observing time lost due to safe mode.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Malderi on 03/21/2011 07:59 PM
Question about the safe mode issue:

How does this affect the science? Since they've powered off the sensors, they're not detecting transits. Say there was a planet transiting on a six month period. We'd see it six months ago, miss it now, and then see it six months from now, then a year from now. It must also affect the general calculations of planetary frequency on a galactic level because we're missing other transits because of safe-mode events like this.

Is this sort of thing quantified? Is there something I'm missing as to how this is handled?
Remember, we are only catching a fraction of the exoplanets out there, anyways. Kepler is best for statistical understandings, not for seeing conclusively if there is or isn't an exoplanet around the star Zebulon 85.

I understand, and that's my point. If they detect X planets, there's some function of X that gives a rough understanding of the number of planets in the Milky Way as a whole. My question is whether this function takes into account the lost observing time (which means it gets adjusted depending on how much observing time is actually lost through the mission).

It appears that the answer is yes, according to hop. Thanks.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: corrodedNut on 04/01/2011 01:49 AM
You guys seen this composite photo yet? Pretty cool:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/astroguy/5552363328/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 04/01/2011 02:11 AM
You guys seen this composite photo yet? Pretty cool:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/astroguy/5552363328/

No, I didn't!!

That's really cool!!

Thanks for the link!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 04/03/2011 04:25 PM
NASA’s Kepler Mission Helps Reveal the Inner Secrets of Giant Stars for the First Time

03.31.11

University of Sydney astrophysicists are behind a major breakthrough in the study of the senior citizens of our galaxy: stars known as Red Giants. Using high precision brightness measurements taken by the Kepler spacecraft, scientists have been able to distinguish profound differences inside the cores of stars that otherwise look the same on the surface.

The discovery, published in the latest edition of the journal Nature and made possible by observations using NASA's powerful Kepler space telescope, is shedding new light on the evolution of stars, including our own sun.

The paper's lead author, the University of Sydney's Professor Tim Bedding, explains, "Red giants are evolved stars that have exhausted the supply of hydrogen in their cores that powers nuclear fusion, and instead burn hydrogen in a surrounding shell. Towards the end of their lives, red giants begin burning the helium in their cores."

The Kepler space telescope has allowed Professor Bedding and colleagues to continuously study starlight from hundreds of red giants at an unprecedented level of precision for nearly a year, opening up a window into the stars' cores.

"The changes in brightness at a star's surface is a result of turbulent motions inside that cause continuous star-quakes, creating sound waves that travel down through the interior and back to the surface," Professor Bedding said.

"Under the right conditions, these waves interact with other waves trapped inside the star's helium core. It is these 'mixed' oscillation modes that are the key to understanding a star's particular life stage. By carefully measuring very subtle features of the oscillations in a star's brightness, we can see that some stars have run out of hydrogen in the center and are now burning helium, and are therefore at a later stage of life."

Astronomer Travis Metcalfe of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, in a companion piece in the same Nature issue which highlights the discovery's significance, compares red giants to Hollywood stars, whose age is not always obvious from the surface. "During certain phases in a star's life, its size and brightness are remarkably constant, even while profound transformations are taking place deep inside."

Professor Bedding and his colleagues work in an expanding field called asteroseismology. "In the same way that geologists use earthquakes to explore Earth's interior, we use star quakes to explore the internal structure of stars," he explained.

Professor Bedding said: "We are very excited about the results. We had some idea from theoretical models that these subtle oscillation patterns would be there, but this confirms our models. It allows us to tell red giants apart, and we will be able to compare the fraction of stars that are at the different stages of evolution in a way that we couldn't before."

Daniel Huber, a PhD student working with Professor Bedding, added: "This shows how wonderful the Kepler satellite really is. The main aim of the telescope was to find Earth-sized planets that could be habitable, but it has also provided us with a great opportunity to improve our understanding of stars."

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/giant_stars.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 08/12/2011 10:32 AM
Quote
Mission Manager Update - Closing Quarter Nine, Onto Quarter 1008.11.11
 
Summer has been quite busy with the Kepler project team. The mission operations team successfully completed the summer quarterly roll of the spacecraft over June 26-27. The spacecraft is rolled 90 degrees every three months to keep the solar panels pointed at the sun. Power for the spacecraft is provided by four non-coplanar panels with a total area of 10.2 square meters (109.8 square feet). Combined, the 2,860 individual solar cells can produce over 1,100 watts. That’s equivalent to the wattage of the typical household coffee maker.

...

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20110811.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 08/12/2011 05:59 PM
Quote
Alien World is Blacker than Coal

 Astronomers have discovered the darkest known exoplanet - a distant, Jupiter-sized gas giant known as TrES-2b. Their measurements show that TrES-2b reflects less than one percent of the sunlight falling on it, making it blacker than coal or any planet or moon in our solar system.

...

http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2011/pr201121.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 08/13/2011 10:19 AM
Quote
NASA's Kepler Mission Announces Next Data Release to Public Archive
 
The Kepler science team announced on Aug. 12 the next release of data to the public archive. Quarter three science data collected during the months of September to December 2009 will be available for download on Sept. 23, 2011

...

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-Q3release.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 09/11/2011 02:44 PM
Quote
Invisible World Discovered

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has spotted a planet that alternately runs late and early in its orbit because a second, "invisible" world is tugging on it. This is the first definite detection of a previously unknown planet using this method. No other technique could have found the unseen companion.

...

http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2011/pr201124.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 09/13/2011 08:22 PM
MEDIA ADVISORY: M11-192

NASA TO ANNOUNCE KEPLER DISCOVERY AT MEDIA BRIEFING

Science Journal Has Embargoed Details Until 11 a.m. PDT, Sept. 15

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA will host a news briefing at 11 a.m.
PDT, Thursday, Sept. 15, to announce a new discovery by the Kepler
mission. The briefing will be held in the Syvertson auditorium,
building N-201, at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field,
Calif. The event will be carried live on NASA Television and the
agency's website at


http://www.nasa.gov/ntv


Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets
in or near the "habitable zone," the region in a planetary system
where liquid water can exist on the surface of the orbiting planet.
Although additional observations will be needed to achieve that
milestone, Kepler is detecting planets and planet candidates with a
wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help us better
understand our place in the galaxy.

A representative from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a division of
Lucasfilm Ltd., will join a panel of scientists to discuss the
discovery. The briefing participants are:
--Charlie Sobeck, Kepler deputy project manager, Ames Research Center
--Nick Gautier, Kepler project scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
--Laurance Doyle, lead author, SETI Institute, Mountain View, Calif.
--John Knoll, visual effects supervisor, ILM, San Francisco.
--Greg Laughlin, professor for Astrophysics and Planetary Science,
University of California, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Reporters can attend in person or dial-in for the briefing. To
register or to obtain dial-in information, contact Michele Johnson at
650-604-4789 or michele.johnson@nasa.gov by 4:30 p.m. PDT, Wednesday,
Sept. 14. To reach Ames, take U.S. Highway 101 to the Moffett Field,
NASA Parkway exit and drive east toward the main gate. News media
representatives must obtain a badge at the Visitor Badge Office,
located at the main gate.

For more information about the Kepler mission and to view the digital
press kit, visit:


http://www.nasa.gov/kepler   


-end-

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hyper_snyper on 09/14/2011 12:45 AM
I'm guessing ILM did a visualization of this discovery?  I wonder what this is about.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 09/14/2011 01:22 AM
We are in a golden age of astronomy... We're discovering so many worlds every year, it's quite difficult to keep track of them all... Some transits can even be studied by amateur equipment (and advancements in digital imaging have brought the price down to the amateur level), and instruments like Kepler, Spitzer, and Keck allow a broad range of options for studying these worlds... Eventually, as more data is collected and techniques improve, we will discover many Earth-sized planets firmly in their habitable zones... With just information on the orbit, mass, and radius of the exoplanets, though, our options for seeing if there's any life there will be limited to guesswork and simulations...


This may, in fact, be the saving grace of James Webb... JWST with a free-flying occulter would greatly enhance the ability to obtain the spectra of these Earth-sized and Earth-temperature exoplanets. Obtaining interesting spectra (http://planetquest1.jpl.nasa.gov/TPFDarwinConf/proceedings/posters/p058.pdf) for just one of these would make everyone forget any and all the cost over-runs JWST has experienced...

EDIT: Someone from the SETI institute is going to be in on the talk? Must be something in the habitable zone of a star.


Here's to more missions like Kepler! And may we find the galaxy a crowded place!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Blackstar on 09/14/2011 04:38 AM
Can JWST use a free-flying occulter?

Last time I heard about that idea it was associated with a visual/UV telescope intended to succeed Hubble. You'd think that something like that would be cheap, but it turns out that it is a highly precise instrument that has to be positioned exactly from a far distance away. It's actually rather difficult and expensive to do.

As for the overall gist of your post, I'm not so sure. I used to think that this was the thing that was going to save the astronomers--they would find a planet that was really really intriguing and they would get a big boost in their budget. However, JWST is so incredibly over budget that I'm not sure that such a discovery helps them. If they get a boost in their budget it won't go towards a new telescope, it just gets thrown at JWST, and that's not as satisfying.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 09/14/2011 05:35 AM
Can JWST use a free-flying occulter?

Last time I heard about that idea it was associated with a visual/UV telescope intended to succeed Hubble. You'd think that something like that would be cheap, but it turns out that it is a highly precise instrument that has to be positioned exactly from a far distance away. It's actually rather difficult and expensive to do.

As for the overall gist of your post, I'm not so sure. I used to think that this was the thing that was going to save the astronomers--they would find a planet that was really really intriguing and they would get a big boost in their budget. However, JWST is so incredibly over budget that I'm not sure that such a discovery helps them. If they get a boost in their budget it won't go towards a new telescope, it just gets thrown at JWST, and that's not as satisfying.
Yes, JWST can definitely use an occulter (and I've seen about a half dozen papers proposing it). But yeah, it's not simple or even cheap. It has to be a considerable distance from the telescope, and to switch targets takes lots of delta-v, so it probably should would ion thrusters. It'd be a significant project, but it seems just about the nearest-term way to get spectra of a relatively Earth-like exoplanet. The field of exoplanet research is pretty hot right now, so I wouldn't be surprised if a nearby Earth-like (in mass and temperature) exoplanet is found before JWST launches, which would provide the impetus for such an add-on project.

There's no guarantee that JWST will be saved, even though that might be the only way we could get such spectra in the near-term.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: as58 on 09/14/2011 10:13 AM
Can JWST use a free-flying occulter?

Last time I heard about that idea it was associated with a visual/UV telescope intended to succeed Hubble. You'd think that something like that would be cheap, but it turns out that it is a highly precise instrument that has to be positioned exactly from a far distance away. It's actually rather difficult and expensive to do.

There were some white papers submitted for Astro2010 both for a starshade for JWST and a stand-alone mission with a dedicated telescope. I think the cost estimate given for the JWST starshade was a bit over $1 billion.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Jason1701 on 09/15/2011 06:16 PM
Tatooine!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: TheFallen on 09/15/2011 06:29 PM
NASA's Kepler Discovery Confirms First Planet Orbiting Two Stars

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2011/11-69AR.html

Unfortunately, this world is cold and gaseous...not a desert planet filled with giant lizards and dorky farmers who complain about not being able to go to Toshi Station to pick up power converters :)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 09/15/2011 07:14 PM
NASA's Kepler Discovery Confirms First Planet Orbiting Two Stars

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2011/11-69AR.html

Unfortunately, this world is cold and gaseous...not a desert planet filled with giant lizards and dorky farmers who complain about not being able to go to Toshi Station to pick up power converters :)
Was there a press conference or anything? I missed it! Is there any way to see an archived video of it?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: TheFallen on 09/15/2011 07:46 PM
There are cool images and videos here:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepler-16b.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: rdale on 09/15/2011 07:51 PM
Was there a press conference or anything? I missed it! Is there any way to see an archived video of it?

Yes to all of the above...

It'll be on YouTube, and I'm sure John44 snagged it.

http://www.youtube.com/user/NASAtelevision
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 09/15/2011 08:31 PM
NASA's Kepler Discovery Confirms First Planet Orbiting Two Stars

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2011/11-69AR.html

Unfortunately, this world is cold and gaseous...not a desert planet filled with giant lizards and dorky farmers who complain about not being able to go to Toshi Station to pick up power converters :)
This planet is on the outer edge of the HZ, so there may be room for smaller planets a bit closer in. Not clear to me how much closer they could be without being perturbed by the binary, but 16b manages to be in a very circular orbit which appears to be stable for long periods.

Greg Laughlin used this image Cassini image http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=3116 to remind us there are implications closer to home: There is still room for small (<Jupiter) planets to be hiding in the Alpha Centauri system. To me, that's a lot more exciting than the Star Wars tie in ;)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 09/15/2011 08:38 PM
NASA's Kepler Discovery Confirms First Planet Orbiting Two Stars

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2011/11-69AR.html

Unfortunately, this world is cold and gaseous...not a desert planet filled with giant lizards and dorky farmers who complain about not being able to go to Toshi Station to pick up power converters :)
This planet is on the outer edge of the HZ, so there may be room for smaller planets a bit closer in. Not clear to me how much closer they could be without being perturbed by the binary, but 16b manages to be in a very circular orbit which appears to be stable for long periods.

Greg Laughlin used this image Cassini image http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=3116 to remind us there are implications closer to home: There is still room for small (<Jupiter) planets to be hiding in the Alpha Centauri system. To me, that's a lot more exciting than the Star Wars tie in ;)

I quite agree!

Maybe it could harbor a Hoth-like moon? Life could still arise on an Enceladus-like moon (though would be difficult for us to observe from a distance...).

The Alpha Centauri connection is more interesting to me... Close enough for pretty decent spectroscopic analysis, and even possible to contemplate a mission to the system itself in the future.

In honor of this discovery, from an artist local to where I live, an ode to the Twin Suns of Tatooine:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_3xbcJBUxY
Quote
Twin suns of Tatooine
Taught me everything I know
Twin suns of Tatooine
Taught me everything I know

There's room up there for second chances
Singles are fine but doubles are fantastic
I'd like to think that there's a star for me and you
Spinning round, falling for one another

Twin suns of Tatooine
Taught me everything I know
Twin suns of Tatooine
Taught me everything I know

Solos are fine but duets are romantic
A pair is grand but a trio'd be disastrous
I'd like to think that there's a star for me and you
Spinning round, falling for one another

♪"Twin suns of Kepler-16B... Taught me everything I know"♫♪
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 09/15/2011 08:52 PM
Maybe it could harbor a Hoth-like moon? Life could still arise on an Enceladus-like moon (though would be difficult for us to observe from a distance...).
One of the participants (sorry don't remember who) said something along the lines of a moon with big enough greenhouse effect being potentially habitable. OTOH it sounds like one of the stars is pretty active.

Another point brought up is that the habitable zone in this kind of system is less clear cut. The seasons are going to be complicated...

Also this system is only ~200 LY away, much closer than most Kepler stars.

I don't think anyone mentioned how old the system is, would be interesting to know.

But wait, there's more! From Steinn Sigurdsson at the Extreme Solar Systems 2 conference: http://scienceblogs.com/catdynamics/2011/09/exssii_session_42.php
Quote
1063 eclipsing binaries, 750 with secondary eclipses,
with 150 tertiary candidates from timing!!!
Dozen or more circumbinary exoplanet candidates.
!!! :o
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: John44 on 09/15/2011 08:52 PM
Kepler Mission News Conference
http://www.space-multimedia.nl.eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7102
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 09/15/2011 09:19 PM
More information, including link to the paper describing it http://exoplanet.eu/star.php?st=Kepler-16%20%28Ab%29

The paper explains why age wasn't mentioned: We don't know
Quote
The primary star is a slow rotator (with a period of about 35.1 days, judging from the out-of-eclipse variations), usually indicative of old age.
In contrast, the level of starspot activity and chromospheric emission (Mt. Wilson S value = 1.10) are indicative of youth. The spectroscopic determination of star A’s heavy-element fraction ([m/H] = –0.3 ± 0.2) is also relatively uncertain, making it more difficult to estimate the age with theoretical evolutionary models.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 12/01/2011 08:13 PM
Just saw something about a press conference on Monday involving a new planetary discovery.  Jill Tarter is listed as one of the presenters.  Might this be an earthlike world?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 12/02/2011 02:34 AM
Oh yeah, here's the link to the press release:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/nov/HQ_M11-243_Kepler.html

Looking forward to Monday!  (I can't believe I just typed that.  Usually I dread Mondays as they're the start of the work week).
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 12/02/2011 08:02 AM
Quote
Kepler Mission Manager Update

Flight segment operations with the Kepler spacecraft have remained routine. We have continued our normal semi-weekly contacts as Kepler is approximately 30 million miles from Earth. The flight segment continues its run of problem-free science collection, going on eight months now. Last fall season in 2010, we had a problem with one star in the field of view of star tracker 1. It was a variable star that would occasionally dip below the magnitude the star tracker was expecting and would cause problems in trying to match it with the star catalog. Our mitigations of this problem are working as expected and the issue has not repeated this fall season.

The mission operations team just successfully completed our latest science data downlink, marking the end of Quarter 11 Month 2 science data collection. Incidentally, it coincides with the 1,000th day since Kepler’s launch in March 2009. Of course, the project team will not pass up the opportunity to commemorate 1,000 days since launch, and we will host a small event in the project offices to mark the date, and reflect on all of Kepler’s accomplishments since the mission inception.

While we are marking that major milestone, we will also making final preparations for the Kepler Science Conference. More than 400 registrants have signed up to attend our worldwide Kepler Science Conference, scheduled for Dec. 5-9, 2011 at NASA Ames Research Center. Over 90 talks, as well as over 110 scientific poster presentations, are scheduled over the week long event. The Kepler Science Conference agenda and program guide, at 240 pages, is available online for the public review.

We are expecting many exciting presentations at the conference, and the announcements of new discoveries from the Kepler data. To participate, watch the live stream at http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/kepler

Regards,

Roger Hunter

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20111201.html (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20111201.html)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 12/03/2011 10:07 AM
Super Earth-size Planet Confirmed Around Bright F6 Subgiant Star

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepler-21b.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/05/2011 03:16 PM
RELEASE: 11-408

NASA'S KEPLER CONFIRMS ITS FIRST PLANET IN HABITABLE ZONE OF SUN-LIKE STAR

MOFFET FIELD, Calif. -- NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first
planet in the "habitable zone," the region where liquid water could
exist on a planet's surface. Kepler also has discovered more than
1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known
count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the
habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up
observations to verify they are actual planets.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to
orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our
sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists
don't yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or
liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding
Earth-like planets.

Previous research hinted at the existence of near-Earth-size planets
in habitable zones, but clear confirmation proved elusive. Two other
small planets orbiting stars smaller and cooler than our sun recently
were confirmed on the very edges of the habitable zone, with orbits
more closely resembling those of Venus and Mars.

"This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth's twin," said
Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in
Washington. "Kepler's results continue to demonstrate the importance
of NASA's science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest
questions about our place in the universe."

Kepler discovers planets and planet candidates by measuring dips in
the brightness of more than 150,000 stars to search for planets that
cross in front, or "transit," the stars. Kepler requires at least
three transits to verify a signal as a planet.

"Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet," said
William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA Ames Research
Center at Moffett Field, Calif., who led the team that discovered
Kepler-22b. "The first transit was captured just three days after we
declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the
defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season."

The Kepler science team uses ground-based telescopes and the Spitzer
Space Telescope to review observations on planet candidates the
spacecraft finds. The star field that Kepler observes in the
constellations Cygnus and Lyra can only be seen from ground-based
observatories in spring through early fall. The data from these other
observations help determine which candidates can be validated as
planets.

Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away. While the planet is larger
than Earth, its orbit of 290 days around a sun-like star resembles
that of our world. The planet's host star belongs to the same class
as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and
cooler.

Of the 54 habitable zone planet candidates reported in February 2011,
Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed. This milestone will be
published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The Kepler team is hosting its inaugural science conference at Ames
Dec. 5-9, announcing 1,094 new planet candidate discoveries. Since
the last catalog was released in February, the number of planet
candidates identified by Kepler has increased by 89 percent and now
totals 2,326. Of these, 207 are approximately Earth-size, 680 are
super Earth-size, 1,181 are Neptune-size, 203 are Jupiter-size and 55
are larger than Jupiter.

The findings, based on observations conducted May 2009 to September
2010, show a dramatic increase in the numbers of smaller-size planet
candidates.

Kepler observed many large planets in small orbits early in its
mission, which were reflected in the February data release. Having
had more time to observe three transits of planets with longer
orbital periods, the new data suggest that planets one to four times
the size of Earth may be abundant in the galaxy.

The number of Earth-size and super Earth-size candidates has increased
by more than 200 and 140 percent since February, respectively.

There are 48 planet candidates in their star's habitable zone. While
this is a decrease from the 54 reported in February, the Kepler team
has applied a stricter definition of what constitutes a habitable
zone in the new catalog, to account for the warming effect of
atmospheres, which would move the zone away from the star, out to
longer orbital periods.

"The tremendous growth in the number of Earth-size candidates tells us
that we're honing in on the planets Kepler was designed to detect:
those that are not only Earth-size, but also are potentially
habitable," said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead at
San Jose State University in California. "The more data we collect,
the keener our eye for finding the smallest planets out at longer
orbital periods."

For more information about the Kepler mission and to view the digital
press kit, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 12/05/2011 08:28 PM
This is huge.  Super earth in the habitable zone.  Wish we had bigger scopes to look at it.

Hope Kepler gets extended to 2015. 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/05/2011 08:36 PM
Agreed, this is exciting news..
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 12/06/2011 02:01 AM
The First Kepler Science Conference is running from today through the 9th.
http://kepler.nasa.gov/Science/ForScientists/keplerconference/

Site appears slow, (they may be getting a little extra traffic ;)), see also
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/events/2011/kepscicon-presskit.html

The presentations are being streamed live on the web at http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/kepler for anyone who wants to hear about exo-planets first hand from the people who study them.

edit:
Full Kepler 22b news conference
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en5OObU0ryU
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 12/06/2011 06:37 AM
Thanks. :) Great presentation. Love this mission (today in class there was a talk on stellar seismology... much of it was using data provided by Keppler).
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 12/07/2011 01:59 AM
Kepler public talk starting in a few minutes http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/kepler (~7:00 PST)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:19 AM
Thanks for the heads up... watching now..

here is a nice skymap showing exactly where kepler is focused on.. (all the square patches matches its camera
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:22 AM
nice pre and post keplar planet size detections... smaller planets much more plentiful
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:23 AM
totals as of december
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:25 AM
size relationships
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:29 AM
habitable plot
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:31 AM
specific plots of planets
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:33 AM
specific planets now...keplar10b
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:36 AM
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:47 AM
Kepler 11 system - 6 planets identified in this system
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:51 AM
kepler 22 - planet in the habital zone
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:52 AM
current planets in the habital zone
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:55 AM
locations in keplers field of view
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/07/2011 02:58 AM
Q&A now...presentation over... very good
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 12/20/2011 01:02 AM
More planets found by Kepler:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/dec/HQ_M11-254_Kepler_Update.html

They've got someone who's listed as the "director of the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington" as a presenter - maybe they've found an earth sized planet?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 12/20/2011 06:12 PM
Kepler found 2 earth sized planets around another star.  One smaller than earth and one only a smidgen bigger.  They're too hot for life but they are there.  Can't post a link from my mobile but check the nasa.gov site.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/20/2011 06:19 PM
Kepler found 2 earth sized planets around another star.  One smaller than earth and one only a smidgen bigger.  They're too hot for life but they are there.  Can't post a link from my mobile but check the nasa.gov site.



http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepler-20-system.html


NASA Discovers First Earth-size Planets Beyond Our Solar System12.20.11 

MOFFET FIELD, Calif. -- NASA's Kepler mission has discovered the first Earth-size planets orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system. The planets, called Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are too close to their star to be in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface, but they are the smallest exoplanets ever confirmed around a star like our sun.

The discovery marks the next important milestone in the ultimate search for planets like Earth. The new planets are thought to be rocky. Kepler-20e is slightly smaller than Venus, measuring 0.87 times the radius of Earth. Kepler-20f is a bit larger than Earth, measuring 1.03 times its radius. Both planets reside in a five-planet system called Kepler-20, approximately 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra.

Kepler-20e orbits its parent star every 6.1 days and Kepler-20f every 19.6 days. These short orbital periods mean very hot, inhospitable worlds. Kepler-20f, at 800 degrees Fahrenheit, is similar to an average day on the planet Mercury. The surface temperature of Kepler-20e, at more than 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit, would melt glass.

“The primary goal of the Kepler mission is to find Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone," said Francois Fressin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., lead author of a new study published in the journal Nature. "This discovery demonstrates for the first time that Earth-size planets exist around other stars, and that we are able to detect them.”

The Kepler-20 system includes three other planets that are larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. Kepler-20b, the closest planet, Kepler-20c, the third planet, and Kepler-20d, the fifth planet, orbit their star every 3.7, 10.9 and 77.6 days. All five planets have orbits lying roughly within Mercury's orbit in our solar system. The host star belongs to the same G-type class as our sun, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.

The system has an unexpected arrangement. In our solar system, small, rocky worlds orbit close to the sun and large, gaseous worlds orbit farther out. In comparison, the planets of Kepler-20 are organized in alternating size: large, small, large, small and large.

"The Kepler data are showing us some planetary systems have arrangements of planets very different from that seen in our solar system," said Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist and Kepler science team member at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "The analysis of Kepler data continue to reveal new insights about the diversity of planets and planetary systems within our galaxy."

Scientists are not certain how the system evolved but they do not think the planets formed in their existing locations. They theorize the planets formed farther from their star and then migrated inward, likely through interactions with the disk of material from which they originated. This allowed the worlds to maintain their regular spacing despite alternating sizes.

The Kepler space telescope detects planets and planet candidates by measuring dips in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars to search for planets crossing in front, or transiting, their stars. The Kepler science team requires at least three transits to verify a signal as a planet.

The Kepler science team uses ground-based telescopes and the Spitzer Space Telescope to review observations on planet candidates the spacecraft finds. The star field Kepler observes in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra can be seen only from ground-based observatories in spring through early fall. The data from these other observations help determine which candidates can be validated as planets.

To validate Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, astronomers used a computer program called Blender, which runs simulations to help rule out other astrophysical phenomena masquerading as a planet.

On Dec. 5 the team announced the discovery of Kepler-22b in the habitable zone of its parent star. It is likely to be too large to have a rocky surface. While Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f are Earth-size, they are too close to their parent star to have liquid water on the surface.

"In the cosmic game of hide and seek, finding planets with just the right size and just the right temperature seems only a matter of time," said Natalie Batalha, Kepler deputy science team lead and professor of astronomy and physics at San Jose State University. "We are on the edge of our seats knowing that Kepler's most anticipated discoveries are still to come."

NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. JPL managed the Kepler mission's development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

For more information about the Kepler mission and to view the digital press kit, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stockman on 12/20/2011 06:26 PM
for reference.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Proponent on 12/21/2011 04:46 AM
They've got someone who's listed as the "director of the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington" as a presenter - maybe they've found an earth sized planet?

The wonderfully idiosyncratic name of the department is just a historical artifact, like the Jet Propulsion Lab.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 12/21/2011 05:09 AM
The Kepler 20 e+f paper is available at http://arxiv.org/abs/1112.4550

Also a nice writeup on the planetery society blog: http://planetary.org/blog/article/00003309/

Edit: and a paper about the entire Kepler 20 system http://arxiv.org/abs/1112.4514
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Hungry4info3 on 12/24/2011 02:15 AM
NASA Telescopes Help Find Rare Galaxy at Dawn of Time

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-392

Kepler relation?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 12/24/2011 10:03 AM
NASA Telescopes Help Find Rare Galaxy at Dawn of Time

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-392

Kepler relation?

Sorry, wrong thread I've deleted the post
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 01/11/2012 07:56 PM
RELEASE: 12-013

NASA'S KEPLER MISSION FINDS THREE SMALLEST EXOPLANETS

WASHINGTON -- Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler mission have
discovered the three smallest planets yet detected orbiting a star
beyond our sun. The planets orbit a single star, called KOI-961, and
are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the radius of Earth. The smallest is
about the size of Mars.

All three planets are thought to be rocky like Earth, but orbit close
to their star. That makes them too hot to be in the habitable zone,
which is the region where liquid water could exist. Of the more than
700 planets confirmed to orbit other stars -- called exoplanets --
only a handful are known to be rocky.

"Astronomers are just beginning to confirm thousands of planet
candidates uncovered by Kepler so far," said Doug Hudgins, Kepler
program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Finding one as
small as Mars is amazing, and hints that there may be a bounty of
rocky planets all around us."

Kepler searches for planets by continuously monitoring more than
150,000 stars, looking for telltale dips in their brightness caused
by crossing, or transiting, planets. At least three transits are
required to verify a signal as a planet. Follow-up observations from
ground-based telescopes also are needed to confirm the discoveries.

The latest discovery comes from a team led by astronomers at the
California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The team used data
publicly released by the Kepler mission, along with follow-up
observations from the Palomar Observatory, near San Diego, and the
W.M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Their measurements
dramatically revised the sizes of the planets from what originally
was estimated.

The three planets are very close to their star, taking less than two
days to orbit around it. The KOI-961 star is a red dwarf with a
diameter one-sixth that of our sun, making it just 70 percent bigger
than Jupiter.

"This is the tiniest solar system found so far," said John Johnson,
the principal investigator of the research from NASA's Exoplanet
Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena. "It's actually more similar to Jupiter and its moons in
scale than any other planetary system. The discovery is further proof
of the diversity of planetary systems in our galaxy."

Red dwarfs are the most common kind of star in our Milky Way galaxy.
The discovery of three rocky planets around one red dwarf suggests
that the galaxy could be teeming with similar rocky planets.

"These types of systems could be ubiquitous in the universe," said
Phil Muirhead, lead author of the new study from Caltech. "This is a
really exciting time for planet hunters."

The discovery follows a string of recent milestones for the Kepler
mission. In December 2011, scientists announced the mission's first
confirmed planet in the habitable zone of a sun-like star: a planet
2.4 times the size of Earth called Kepler-22b. Later in the month,
the team announced the discovery of the first Earth-size planets
orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system, called Kepler-20e
and Kepler-20f.

For the latest discovery, the team obtained the sizes of the three
planets called KOI-961.01, KOI-961.02 and KOI-961.03 with the help of
a well-studied twin star to KOI-961, or Barnard's Star. By better
understanding the KOI-961 star, they then could determine how big the
planets must be to have caused the observed dips in starlight. In
addition to the Kepler observations and ground-based telescope
measurements, the team used modeling techniques to confirm the planet
discoveries.

Prior to these confirmed planets, only six other planets had been
confirmed using the Kepler public data.

NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages Kepler's
ground system development, mission operations and science data
analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., managed
the Kepler mission's development.

For information about the Kepler Mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: TheFallen on 01/11/2012 08:15 PM
Don't forget this:

NASA Discovers New Double-Star Planet Systems

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepler-34-35.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: edlassoto on 01/13/2012 02:21 PM
What is the best category to use to discuss exoplanet discoveries?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chris Bergin on 01/13/2012 02:23 PM
Merged into here, Edlassato ;)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: edlassoto on 01/13/2012 03:24 PM
The Kepler telescope is discovering many planets by searching for changes in a star's brightness when a planet transits across the face of a star. However, with that method of observing planets, we cannot see any of the details of the planet. While Kepler may not be powerful enough to see details of the planet, maybe future telescopes, such as James Webb will. To see the details it will have to see the bright side of the planet, so it will have to see the planets while they are on the far side of the star. To do that they can use solar occlusion so that the light from the star will not interfere with the light from the planet. The diagram below shows how it could work.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: simonbp on 01/14/2012 05:15 AM
Short of a major change in funding, the external occulter for JWST is dead as doormat. It's still possible to have a specific occulter mission (on a Discovery-class budget), but it won't be paired with JWST.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/14/2012 05:50 AM
Short of a major change in funding, the external occulter for JWST is dead as doormat. It's still possible to have a specific occulter mission (on a Discovery-class budget), but it won't be paired with JWST.
Wait, why won't it be paired with JWST? You mean an occulter with its own dedicated telescope?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: edlassoto on 01/16/2012 12:51 PM
They want to deploy an external occulter as a separate satellite, so it would be extremely expensive($1billion+). Hopefully they will find another technique that is much cheaper. We are still in the midst of the digital imaging revelution. Maybe in a few years they will have some super-cameras that will be able to capture things better.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: edlassoto on 01/19/2012 03:44 PM


Based on this article it looks like there will be a coronagraph mask on the JWST.

http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/instruments/nircam/instrumentdesign/operations/#coronagraphy (http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/instruments/nircam/instrumentdesign/operations/#coronagraphy)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Hungry4info3 on 01/19/2012 06:40 PM
Based on this article it looks like there will be a coronagraph mask on the JWST.
Yes, but that's not quite the same. The coronograph needed for imaging "normal" extrasolar planets needs to have a very small angular diameter (achieved by having it free-flying and separated from JWST), and shaped in a very particular way to prevent light from being bent around the edges back into the telescope.
http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/25276

The physics are similar to what you pointed out, but this is a much more extreme case and additional effects need to be taken into account here.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 01/26/2012 07:28 PM
News release: 2012-026                                                                     Jan. 26, 2012

NASA's Kepler Announces 11 New Planetary Systems

The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-026&cid=release_2012-026

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems hosting 26 confirmed planets. These discoveries nearly double the number of verified Kepler planets and triple the number of stars known to have more than one planet that transits, or passes in front of, the star. Such systems will help astronomers better understand how planets form.

The planets orbit close to their host stars and range in size from 1.5 times the radius of Earth to larger than Jupiter. Fifteen are between Earth and Neptune in size. Further observations will be required to determine which are rocky like Earth and which have thick gaseous atmospheres like Neptune. The planets orbit their host star once every six to 143 days. All are closer to their host star than Venus is to our sun.

"Prior to the Kepler mission, we knew of perhaps 500 exoplanets across the whole sky," said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates. This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits."

Kepler identifies planet candidates by repeatedly measuring the change in brightness of more than 150,000 stars to detect when a planet passes in front of the star. That passage casts a small shadow toward Earth and the Kepler spacecraft.

"Confirming that the small decrease in the star's brightness is due to a planet requires additional observations and time-consuming analysis," said Eric Ford, associate professor of astronomy at the University of Florida and lead author of the paper confirming Kepler-23 and Kepler-24. "We verified these planets using new techniques that dramatically accelerated their discovery."

Each of the newly confirmed planetary systems contains two to five closely spaced transiting planets. In tightly packed planetary systems, the gravitational pull of the planets on each other causes some planets to accelerate and some to decelerate along their orbits. The acceleration causes the orbital period of each planet to change. Kepler detects this effect by measuring the changes, or so-called Transit Timing Variations.

Planetary systems with Transit Timing Variations can be verified without requiring extensive ground-based observations, accelerating confirmation of planet candidates. This detection technique also increases Kepler's ability to confirm planetary systems around fainter and more distant stars.

"By precisely timing when each planet transits its star, Kepler detected the gravitational tug of the planets on each other, clinching the case for 10 of the newly announced planetary systems," said Dan Fabrycky, Hubble Fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lead author for a paper confirming Kepler-29, 30, 31 and 32.

Five of the systems (Kepler-25, Kepler-27, Kepler-30, Kepler-31 and Kepler-33) contain a pair of planets where the inner planet orbits the star twice during each orbit of the outer planet. Four of the systems (Kepler-23, Kepler-24, Kepler-28 and Kepler-32) contain a pairing where the outer planet circles the star twice for every three times the inner planet orbits its star.

"These configurations help to amplify the gravitational interactions between the planets, similar to how my sons kick their legs on a swing at the right time to go higher," said Jason Steffen, the Brinson postdoctoral fellow at Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics in Batavia, Ill., and lead author of a paper confirming Kepler-25, 26, 27 and 28.

Kepler-33, a star that is older and more massive than our sun, had the most planets. The system hosts five planets, ranging in size from 1.5 to 5 times that of Earth. All of the planets are located closer to their star than any planet is to our sun.

The properties of a star provide clues for planet detection. The decrease in the star's brightness and duration of a planet transit combined with the properties of its host star present a recognizable signature. When astronomers detect planet candidates that exhibit similar signatures around the same star, the likelihood of any of these planet candidates being a false positive is very low.

"The approach used to verify the Kepler-33 planets shows the overall reliability is quite high," said Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper on Kepler-33. "This is a validation by multiplicity."

These discoveries are published in four different papers in the Astrophysical Journal and the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., managed the Kepler mission's development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

For more information about the Kepler mission and to view the digital press kit, visit http://www.nasa.gov/kepler . More information about exoplanets and NASA's planet-finding program is at http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov .
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: TheFallen on 01/30/2012 12:58 AM
Don't let the copying and pasting above diminish the impact of last week's awesome news: Kepler's planet count has jumped from 35 to 61 alien worlds officially discovered by the space telescope! Nice... :)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 02/08/2012 12:39 PM
Astronaut and Former Kepler Science Office Director Janice Voss Remembered

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/remembering-voss.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 02/11/2012 10:02 AM
Kepler Mission Manager Update

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20120210.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 03/10/2012 10:31 AM
NASA's Kepler Mission Wins Aviation Week Award

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-065
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 03/26/2012 02:19 PM
Kepler Mission Manager Update

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20120322.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 04/04/2012 04:32 AM
The Kepler Facebook page says the mission's been extended til FY 16.  That's great news!

By the way I'm jonesing for some more Kepler press releases and discoveries.  One fine day I hope to see a press release with news of a monumental announcement to be made.....
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 04/05/2012 01:44 PM
Here's a link to the Kepler homepage announcing the mission extension:

http://kepler.nasa.gov/news/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=199

Interesting finding also about stars - apparently the sun has fewer brightness variations than most stars.  Maybe another key piece to the puzzle for life? 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 04/05/2012 03:48 PM
The Kepler Facebook page says the mission's been extended til FY 16.  That's great news!

By the way I'm jonesing for some more Kepler press releases and discoveries.  One fine day I hope to see a press release with news of a monumental announcement to be made.....

I just saw the note on Twitter. Awesome news.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: as58 on 04/05/2012 07:09 PM
I'm not sure if it's entirely true that the Kepler mission extension is a done deal. The Senior Review recommended extension to 2016, though there'll be a further review in 2014. However, extension was recommended for pretty much every mission under review, and for some missions augmented funding even beyond what was requested. It's not entirely clear, at least not to me, how all that can fit within the budget. Especially as there are many other projects within NASA that are hungry for increased funding, as we've heard in congress hearings.

The review is a nice read, and not too long:
http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2012/04/03/Report_of_the_2012_Senior_Review_of_Astrophysics_Division_Operating_Missions.pdf
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/05/2012 07:51 PM
Extending a mission is usually a no-brainer. No more launch or hardware costs, just operations and science. That's why extensions are usually recommended, often until the spacecraft becomes inoperable. That's pretty common sense, if you ask me. I mean, extend it with a reduced budget (or bandwidth allotment, if Deep Space Network time is an issue) if you have to, but there's often no reason to shut it down entirely while it still works. If you have only a tiny budget, then archive the data so later scientists can mine it instead of allowing a perfectly good spacecraft going to waste.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: as58 on 04/05/2012 08:48 PM
Extending a mission is usually a no-brainer. No more launch or hardware costs, just operations and science. That's why extensions are usually recommended, often until the spacecraft becomes inoperable. That's pretty common sense, if you ask me. I mean, extend it with a reduced budget (or bandwidth allotment, if Deep Space Network time is an issue) if you have to, but there's often no reason to shut it down entirely while it still works. If you have only a tiny budget, then archive the data so later scientists can mine it instead of allowing a perfectly good spacecraft going to waste.

Well, yes but... NASA spends ~$300 M every year on its existing astrophysics missions, and often the missions have very long lifetimes. If everything is always extend as long as possible, it's hard to get anything new built. As they get older, satellites degrade (radiation damage to CCDs, contamination on optics, etc.), so they lose capability. For survey missions gains are diminishing because each additional year provides always less improvement to SNR, and if you're limited by systematic errors, extending doesn't do any good. For observatory missions the case for extensions is often better.

I doubt that cutting back on bandwidth is worthwhile very often, I'd think the science return drops a lot faster than costs. As for just archiving the data, that already happens, for instance Suzaku lost GO funding due to budgetary pressures, so that accepted observers need to find other funding sources (the review recommends returning GO funding at $1M/year). For missions where the US is responsible for operating costs, cutting analysis funding probably doesn't yield huge savings. For instance, the review states that about $25M/year out of the $95M/year Hubble budget is GO funding.

I think that a mission extension (at least for an astrophysics mission) is not a no-brainer, and the cost and returns should be carefully considered. It's not even uncommon to end a mission before the spacecraft fails. The previous senior review was particularly harsh, 5 out of 11 missions were terminated. I'd be happy if it's possible to carry out all the recommended mission extensions. I'm just a bit afraid that budget constraints may lead to something bad.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: veblen on 04/06/2012 04:14 PM
Extending a mission is usually a no-brainer. No more launch or hardware costs, just operations and science. That's why extensions are usually recommended, often until the spacecraft becomes inoperable. That's pretty common sense, if you ask me. I mean, extend it with a reduced budget (or bandwidth allotment, if Deep Space Network time is an issue) if you have to, but there's often no reason to shut it down entirely while it still works. If you have only a tiny budget, then archive the data so later scientists can mine it instead of allowing a perfectly good spacecraft going to waste.

Well, yes but... NASA spends ~$300 M every year on its existing astrophysics missions, and often the missions have very long lifetimes. If everything is always extend as long as possible, it's hard to get anything new built. As they get older, satellites degrade (radiation damage to CCDs, contamination on optics, etc.), so they lose capability. For survey missions gains are diminishing because each additional year provides always less improvement to SNR, and if you're limited by systematic errors, extending doesn't do any good. For observatory missions the case for extensions is often better.

I doubt that cutting back on bandwidth is worthwhile very often, I'd think the science return drops a lot faster than costs. As for just archiving the data, that already happens, for instance Suzaku lost GO funding due to budgetary pressures, so that accepted observers need to find other funding sources (the review recommends returning GO funding at $1M/year). For missions where the US is responsible for operating costs, cutting analysis funding probably doesn't yield huge savings. For instance, the review states that about $25M/year out of the $95M/year Hubble budget is GO funding.

I think that a mission extension (at least for an astrophysics mission) is not a no-brainer, and the cost and returns should be carefully considered. It's not even uncommon to end a mission before the spacecraft fails. The previous senior review was particularly harsh, 5 out of 11 missions were terminated. I'd be happy if it's possible to carry out all the recommended mission extensions. I'm just a bit afraid that budget constraints may lead to something bad.

From pg 16 of the report you so graciously linked:

"The mission was intended to be extendible to 6 years or more. At the writing of the SR proposal, Kepler had detected more than 2000 candidate exoplanet systems, with from 1 to as many as 6 planets in each. Prior to the mission, there were questions in the community about the likelihood of false positives among Kepler exoplanet candidates but the Kepler team has developed excellent validation techniques based on the mission data and other available information.  Follow-up has shown that an estimated 90% of the candidates are expected to be true exoplanets.

An important goal of Kepler is to determine the number of potentially habitable planets, based on an analogy with the Earth and the solar system.
 
This is often expressed as η⊕ , which is variously defined, but can be thought of as the fraction of Sun-like stars that have a rocky Earth-mass planet in the habitable zone.  Early results from Kepler indicate that it will not be possible to make enough detections of such planets in the 3.5 year mission to give a good value for η⊕ as a result of the higher variability of typical solar-like stars compared to the Sun, upon which the mission design was based. 

A mission extension to 6-8 years of operation is expected to recover this original mission goal."

The situation of Kepler is very different from the example you mention: a decades old astrophysics sat that has lost many if not all of its science channels.

Kepler science phase is only 2.75 years old, and its ability to make discoveries is actually increasing. Kepler is very deserving of the extension, IMHO.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/06/2012 05:28 PM
Extending Kepler is a no-brainer, though, because of the nature of what it's detecting. It's a non-linear improvement, since a longer observation period helps nail down transit timing anomalies caused by orbiting exomoons and greatly improves the chances of finding planets with a longer "year" (you need three transits at least to say with any certainty that you've found an exoplanet, and that means at least two or three "years"). If we shut it down right now, we wouldn't be able to find ANY planets with an orbital period as long as Mars's, let alone any further out.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: epistefiend on 04/17/2012 01:25 AM
Hypothetically assuming that this mission gets extended indefinitely, Is there any chance the Kepler will ever be re-aimed to a new patch of sky? Is this even technically possible? Would it even make sense or will Kepler continue discovering exoplanets of increasingly long orbital periods where it is now and yielding useful results.

As kepler continues it's mission it discovers exoplants with longer orbital periods, but i would think that at some point there would be a point of diminishing return for the following reasons.

1.)Something further away from the star has to be more precisely aligned to observe a transit from our vantage point
2.)At some point you will get into orbits so long that there simply aren't very many planets this far away.

It seems that re-pointing it after some period of time would allow it a new chance to discover potentially habitable exoplanets at the expense of detecting planets with really long orbital periods.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 04/17/2012 01:35 AM
There are other reasons for watching the same stars for longer time periods. It can potentially allow exomoons to be discovered by analyzing the small timing variations between transits. The more transits you observe, the greater your certainty in what may be causing the timing variations.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: iamlucky13 on 04/19/2012 12:57 AM
I'd also add in, Kepler isn't likely to discovery anything remarkably different by looking at another patch of the sky than in continuing to stare where it is right now.

Of course, there is some value simply to establishing more exo-planet candidates, but arguably it could be just as valuable to nail down the ratios of long period to short period planets.

As far as bandwidth, I'm not sure how feasible it is to reduce the data sent back to earth without seriously reducing the utility of the data. The volume of raw data is already well beyond what can be downlinked. They cull most of the pixels, time-bin those they do keep, and compress it all for downlink.

Furthermore, Kepler trails earth in its orbit, gradually drifting further behind, then being overtaken again by earth every 61 years. As the distance increases, the data rate will drop, which will increase the DSN time the mission requires.

I don't know how long NASA will support the mission, but I'm inclined to trust them in deciding when to pull the plug, and I'm sure at least one mission extension will go through.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: racshot65 on 05/22/2012 04:00 PM
NASA's Kepler Detects Potential Evaporating Planet

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-141
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 05/24/2012 03:12 AM
I saw that a few days back....maybe we're looking at Earth in a few billion years?  It's amazing what Kepler keeps discovering.  I saw on their twitter feed that tomorrow their mission manager will be giving a talk to the public in San Luis Obispo, CA.  I wish I could be there for that...or better yet have one of the Kepler scientists come up to Utah and give a talk.  I'd be there.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 06/12/2012 02:20 PM
The Kepler project's going to be giving some talks at the American Astronomical Society meeting today, 2 pm Eastern/12 pm Mountain as per their Facebook and Twitter postings.  Hopefully they'll have some fantastic new discoveries.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 06/12/2012 10:07 PM
Today the Kepler team announced 2,321 planet candidates, and 10 of them are near earth sized in the habitable zone.  They also announced a new circumbinary planet, Kepler 38b.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 06/13/2012 12:57 AM
Today the Kepler team announced 2,321 planet candidates, and 10 of them are near earth sized in the habitable zone.

That was already announced back in February. 38b is seemingly the main news here.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 06/13/2012 04:28 AM
Oh, okay.  I haven't seen anything yet on the Kepler website about 38b or other new planets, but I imagine it'll come out soon.  I'm keeping up with the Twitter feed which mentioned 38b.  Hopefully they'll have some more good stuff tomorrow or in the near future.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 08/20/2012 03:33 AM
Looks like some new planets just got discovered and confirmed (27 Kepler exoplanet candidates around 13 stars).  My iPad Exoplanet app lists Kepler 54c as being earth sized and in the habitable zone of its star.  1.53 earth masses, 1.23 earth radii, 1.01 g surface gravity, orbiting a star half the size of our sun a thousand LY away.

If this is really true......WOW. 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: mduncan36 on 08/20/2012 03:45 AM
Your post is pretty wild because I was just updating the same app and it now shows 811 total confirmed exoplanets. As time goes by the low hanging fruit (giant planets) is giving way to the more difficult confirmations like Kepler 54c. I keep hoping in a year or two we'll have something really exciting to talk about. If there is another "earth" out there we're going to know it in the next ten or fifteen years. Exciting stuff being able to watch such discoveries pop up on my iPhone. Amazing times we live in.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Hungry4info3 on 08/20/2012 04:35 AM
Doing the math with the figures provided for Kepler-54c, I expect it to get 6 times the insolation from its star that Earth receives from Sol. I wouldn't get too excited about it.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 08/20/2012 04:37 AM
I would now be surprised if it took 10-15 years to find earth's "twin" seeing how we're able to see smaller planets all the time, seeing how things are advancing. 

You're right these are truly exciting times.  In the last 4 days Mars Curiosity has fired her laser, Voyager *may* be out of the solar system, and now this, an earth size planet in the habitable zone of a star (if that app is right.  I found something else that listed that planet as KOI 886.02 and it was just 0.083 AU from the star and habitable zone is 0.25 to 0.44.  Why does the app show it in the middle of the habitable zone then?) 

This new listing of exoplanets shows that most of the new ones listed were earth or super earth sized.  Now I'm wondering when we'll find the first exo-moon.

Here's a link to the KOI (Kepler objects of interest) list from Feb 2012:

http://archive.stsci.edu/kepler/planet_candidates.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 08/29/2012 07:00 AM
RELEASE: 12-298

NASA'S KEPLER DISCOVERS MULTIPLE PLANETS ORBITING A PAIR OF STARS

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered multiple transiting planets
orbiting two suns for the first time. The system, known as a
circumbinary planetary system, is 4,900 light-years from Earth in the
constellation Cygnus.

Coming less than a year after the announcement of the first
circumbinary planet, Kepler-16b, this discovery proves that more than
one planet can form and persist in the stressful realm of a binary
star. The discovery demonstrates the diversity of planetary systems
in our galaxy.

Astronomers detected two planets in the Kepler-47 system, a pair of
orbiting stars that eclipse each other every 7.5 days from our
vantage point on Earth. One star is similar to the sun in size, but
only 84 percent as bright. The second star is diminutive, measuring
only one-third the size of the sun and less than 1 percent as bright.


"In contrast to a single planet orbiting a single star, the planet in
a circumbinary system must transit a 'moving target.' As a
consequence, time intervals between the transits and their durations
can vary substantially, sometimes short, other times long," said
Jerome Orosz, associate professor of astronomy at San Diego State
University and lead author of the paper. "The intervals were the
telltale sign these planets are in circumbinary orbits."

The inner planet, Kepler-47b, orbits the pair of stars in less than 50
days. While it cannot be directly viewed, it is thought to be a
sweltering world, where the destruction of methane in its
super-heated atmosphere might lead to a thick haze that could blanket
the planet. At three times the radius of Earth, Kepler-47b is the
smallest known transiting circumbinary planet.

The outer planet, Kepler-47c, orbits its host pair every 303 days,
placing it in the so-called "habitable zone," the region in a
planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a
planet. While not a world hospitable for life, Kepler-47c is thought
to be a gaseous giant slightly larger than Neptune, where an
atmosphere of thick bright water-vapor clouds might exist.

"Unlike our sun, many stars are part of multiple-star systems where
two or more stars orbit one another. The question always has been --
do they have planets and planetary systems? This Kepler discovery
proves that they do," said William Borucki, Kepler mission principal
investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
"In our search for habitable planets, we have found more
opportunities for life to exist."

To search for transiting planets, the research team used data from the
Kepler space telescope, which measures dips in the brightness of more
than 150,000 stars. Additional ground-based spectroscopic
observations using telescopes at the McDonald Observatory at the
University of Texas at Austin helped characterize the stellar
properties. The findings are published in the journal Science.

"The presence of a full-fledged circumbinary planetary system orbiting
Kepler-47 is an amazing discovery," said Greg Laughlin, professor of
Astrophysics and Planetary Science at the University of California in
Santa Cruz. "These planets are very difficult to form using the
currently accepted paradigm, and I believe that theorists, myself
included, will be going back to the drawing board to try to improve
our understanding of how planets are assembled in dusty circumbinary
disks."

Ames manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations
and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., managed the Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the
Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of
Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and
distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's tenth Discovery
Mission and funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the
agency's headquarters in Washington.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: catdlr on 11/15/2012 12:36 AM
News release: 2012-359                                                                       Nov. 14, 2012

NASA's Kepler Wraps Prime Mission, Begins Extension

The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-359&cid=release_2012-359

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA is marking two milestones in the search for planets like Earth; the successful completion of the Kepler Space Telescope's three-and-a-half-year prime mission and the beginning of an extended mission that could last as long as four years.

Scientists have used Kepler data to identify more than 2,300 planet candidates and confirm more than 100 planets. Kepler is teaching us that the galaxy is teeming with planetary systems and that planets are prolific, and is giving us hints that nature makes small planets efficiently.

So far, hundreds of Earth-size planet candidates have been found, as well as candidates that orbit in the habitable zone, the region in a planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet. None of the candidates is exactly like Earth. With the completion of its prime mission, Kepler now has collected enough data to begin finding true sun-Earth analogs -- Earth-size planets with a one-year orbit around stars similar to the sun.

"The initial discoveries of the Kepler mission indicate at least a third of the stars have planets and the number of planets in our galaxy must number in the billions," said William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "The planets of greatest interest are other Earths, and these could already be in the data awaiting analysis. Kepler's most exciting results are yet to come."

NASA's Kepler Space Telescope searches for planet candidates orbiting distant suns, or exoplanets, by continuously measuring the brightness of more than 150,000 stars. When a planet candidate passes, or transits, in front of the star from the spacecraft's vantage point, light from the star is blocked. Different-sized planets block different amounts of starlight. The amount of starlight blocked by a planet reveals its size relative to its star.

Kepler was launched March 6, 2009. Its mission was to survey a portion of the galaxy to determine what fraction of stars might harbor potentially habitable, Earth-sized planets. Planets orbiting in or near habitable zones are of particular interest.

Kepler began the search for small worlds like our own on May 12, 2009, after two months of commissioning. Within months, five exoplanets, known as hot Jupiters because of their enormous size and orbits close to their stars, were confirmed.

Results from Kepler data continue to expand our understanding of planets and planetary systems. Highlights from the prime mission include:

-- In August 2010, scientists confirmed the discovery of the first planetary system with more than one planet transiting the same star. The Kepler-9 system opened the door to measurement of gravitational interactions between planets as observed by the variations in their transit timing. This powerful new technique enables astronomers, in many cases, to calculate the mass of planets directly from Kepler data, without the need for follow-up observations from the ground.

-- In January 2011, the Kepler team announced the discovery of the first unquestionably rocky planet outside the solar system. Kepler-10b, measuring 1.4 times the size of Earth, is the smallest confirmed planet with both a radius and mass measurement. Kepler has continued to uncover smaller and smaller planets, some almost as small as Mars, which tells us small rocky worlds may be common in the galaxy.

-- In February 2011, scientists announced Kepler had found a very crowded and compact planetary system -- a star with multiple transiting planets. Kepler-11 has six planets larger than Earth, all orbiting closer to their star than Venus orbits our sun. This and other subsequently identified compact, multi-planet systems have orbital spacing relative to their host sun and neighboring planets unlike anything envisioned prior to the mission.

-- In September 2011, Kepler data confirmed the existence of a world with a double sunset like the one famously portrayed in the film "Star Wars" more than 35 years ago. The discovery of Kepler-16b turned science fiction into science fact. Since then, the discoveries of six additional worlds orbiting double stars further demonstrated planets can form and persist in the environs of a double-star system.

-- In December 2011, NASA announced Kepler's discovery of the mission's first planet in a habitable zone. Kepler-22b, about 2.4 times the size of Earth, is the smallest-radius planet yet found to orbit a sun-like star in the habitable zone. This discovery confirmed that we are getting continually closer to finding planets like our own.

-- In February 2012, the Kepler team announced more than 1,000 new transiting planet candidates for a cumulative total of 2,321. The data continue the trend toward identifying smaller planets at longer orbital periods, similar to Earth. The results include hundreds of planetary systems.

-- Recently, citizen scientists participating in Planet Hunters, a program led by Yale University, New Haven, Conn., that enlists the public to comb through Kepler data for signs of transiting planets, made their first planet discovery. The joint effort of amateur astronomers and scientists led to the first reported case of a planet orbiting a double star. The three bodies are, in turn, being orbited by a second distant pair of stars.

"Kepler's bounty of new planet discoveries, many quite different from anything found previously, will continue to astound," said Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist at Ames. "But to me, the most wonderful discovery of the mission has not been individual planets, but the systems of two, three, even six planets crowded close to their stars, and, like the planets orbiting about our sun, moving in nearly the same plane. Like people, planets interact with their neighbors and can be greatly affected by them. What are the neighborhoods of Earth-size exoplanets like? This is the question I most hope Kepler will answer in the years to come."

In April 2012, NASA awarded Kepler an extended mission through as late as 2016. More time will enable the continued search for worlds like our own -- worlds that are not too far and too close to their sun.

"The Earth isn't unique, nor the center of the universe," said Geoff Marcy, professor of astronomy at the University of California at Berkeley. "The diversity of other worlds is greater than depicted in all the science fiction novels and movies. Aristotle would be proud of us for answering some of the most profound philosophical questions about our place in the universe."

Ames manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed the Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

For more information about NASA's Kepler mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler .

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

Michele Johnson 650-604-4789
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
michele.johnson@nasa.gov

J.D. Harrington 202-358-5241
Headquarters, Washington
j.d.harrington@nasa.gov
- end -
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 11/15/2012 10:25 AM
Just out of interest, what is the maximum time Kepler is expected to be operable?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 11/17/2012 07:37 PM
Just out of interest, what is the maximum time Kepler is expected to be operable?

Not sure but one thing I would say is that being as it has had some hardware issues of late I would bet that estimate of life expectancy would not be as long as if you had asked the people running it a year ago.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: MarsMethanogen on 11/19/2012 03:48 AM
Just out of interest, what is the maximum time Kepler is expected to be operable?

Not sure but one thing I would say is that being as it has had some hardware issues of late I would bet that estimate of life expectancy would not be as long as if you had asked the people running it a year ago.
Can you expand on the "hardware issues"?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 11/19/2012 04:15 AM
Can you expand on the "hardware issues"?
Kepler recently lost a reaction wheel, see http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20122407.html

If it loses one more, the mission is almost certainly over.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 01/07/2013 08:07 PM
RELEASE: 13-009

NASA KEPLER SCIENTIST HONORED BY NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

WASHINGTON -- William Borucki, science principal investigator for
NASA's Kepler mission at the agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett
Field in California, is the recipient of the 2013 Henry Draper Medal
awarded by the National Academy of Sciences.

Borucki is honored for his founding concept and visionary leadership
during the development of Kepler, which uses transit photometry to
determine the frequency and kinds of planets around other stars.

"This is a commendable recognition for Bill Borucki and the Kepler
mission," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the
Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It
is well deserved and a tribute both to Bill's dedication and
persistence and the fantastic and exciting results from Kepler."

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding 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 is detecting planets and possible candidates with a wide range
of sizes and orbital distances to help scientists better understand
our place in the galaxy.

"It has been a privilege to participate in the initial steps in the
search for life in our galaxy. I would like to thank all who have
worked with me to make this possible," said Borucki.

Borucki earned a Master of Science degree in physics from the
University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1962 and joined Ames as a space
scientist that same year. The results of Borucki's early work
developing spectroscopic instrumentation to determine the plasma
properties of hypervelocity shock waves was used in the design of the
heat shields for the Apollo mission. In June, Borucki celebrated 50
years of service at NASA.

The Henry Draper Medal is awarded every four years for an outstanding,
recently published contribution to astrophysical research and carries
with it an award of $15,000.

The award will be presented at a ceremony April 28, during the
National Academy of Sciences' 150th annual meeting in Washington.
Ames manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations
and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace
and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight
system and supports mission operations with JPL at the Laboratory for
Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in
Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and
distributes the Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery
Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the
agency's headquarters.

For information about the Kepler mission, visit:


http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chris Bergin on 01/07/2013 10:33 PM
More on Kepler:

NASA Kepler closing in on "Earth’s Analogue"

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/01/nasa-kepler-closing-in-earths-analogue/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Borklund on 01/08/2013 10:52 AM
Kepler making world news:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20942440

"Kepler telescope: Earth-sized planets 'number 17bn'"

Exciting stuff :)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 01/08/2013 01:29 PM
Kepler making world news:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20942440

"Kepler telescope: Earth-sized planets 'number 17bn'"

Exciting stuff :)

Bit of misreporting there, IMO.  The actual report talks about "Earth-sized planets in close orbits", so this really is talking about 'hot Earths', not potential Earth-like worlds.

Unless you want to look for quartic crystal-based lifeforms that can survive in Venus-like conditions, that is...
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Borklund on 01/08/2013 04:19 PM
Kepler making world news:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20942440

"Kepler telescope: Earth-sized planets 'number 17bn'"

Exciting stuff :)

Bit of misreporting there, IMO.  The actual report talks about "Earth-sized planets in close orbits", so this really is talking about 'hot Earths', not potential Earth-like worlds.

Unless you want to look for quartic crystal-based lifeforms that can survive in Venus-like conditions, that is...
That depends entirely on what type and size star the Earth-sized planets orbit, no? The number is 1.7bn Earth-sized planets, not just potentially habitable Earth-sized planets. That said, there ought to be a fair number of potentially habitable planets among them.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/08/2013 04:34 PM
There are, also, probably a lot of habitable moons.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Hungry4info3 on 01/08/2013 04:53 PM
Kepler making world news:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20942440

"Kepler telescope: Earth-sized planets 'number 17bn'"

Exciting stuff :)

Bit of misreporting there, IMO.  The actual report talks about "Earth-sized planets in close orbits", so this really is talking about 'hot Earths', not potential Earth-like worlds.

Unless you want to look for quartic crystal-based lifeforms that can survive in Venus-like conditions, that is...
That depends entirely on what type and size star the Earth-sized planets orbit, no? The number is 1.7bn Earth-sized planets, not just potentially habitable Earth-sized planets. That said, there ought to be a fair number of potentially habitable planets among them.

The exact results are one in six stars have an Earth-sized planet within orbital periods of less than 40 days. For M dwarfs or late K dwarfs, sure, that can encompass the HZ.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: catdlr on 01/10/2013 06:38 PM
RELEASE : 13-008
 
 
NASA'S Kepler Mission Discovers 461 New Planet Candidates
 
 
WASHINGTON -- NASA's Kepler mission Monday announced the discovery of 461 new planet candidates. Four of the potential new planets are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's "habitable zone," the region in the planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet.

One of the four newly identified super Earth-size planet candidates, KOI-172.02, orbits in the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The possible planet is approximately 1.5 times the radius of Earth and orbits its host star every 242 days. Additional follow-up analysis will be required to confirm the candidate as a planet.

Based on observations conducted from May 2009 to March 2011, the findings show a steady increase in the number of smaller-size planet candidates and the number of stars with more than one candidate.

"There is no better way to kickoff the start of the Kepler extended mission than to discover more possible outposts on the frontier of potentially life bearing worlds," said Christopher Burke, Kepler scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., who is leading the analysis.

Since the last Kepler catalog was released in February 2012, the number of candidates discovered in the Kepler data has increased by 20 percent and now totals 2,740 potential planets orbiting 2,036 stars. The most dramatic increases are seen in the number of Earth-size and super Earth-size candidates discovered, which grew by 43 and 21 percent respectively.

The new data increases the number of stars discovered to have more than one planet candidate from 365 to 467. Today, 43 percent of Kepler's planet candidates are observed to have neighbor planets.

"The large number of multi-candidate systems being found by Kepler implies that a substantial fraction of exoplanets reside in flat multi-planet systems," said Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "This is consistent with what we know about our own planetary neighborhood."

The Kepler space telescope identifies planet candidates by repeatedly measuring the change in brightness of more than 150,000 stars in search of planets that pass in front, or "transit," their host star. At least three transits are required to verify a signal as a potential planet.

Scientists analyzed more than 13,000 transit-like signals to eliminate known spacecraft instrumentation and astrophysical false positives, phenomena that masquerade as planetary candidates, to identify the potential new planets.

Candidates require additional follow-up observations and analyses to be confirmed as planets. At the beginning of 2012, 33 candidates in the Kepler data had been confirmed as planets. Today, there are 105.

"The analysis of increasingly longer time periods of Kepler data uncovers smaller planets in longer period orbits-- orbital periods similar to Earth's," said Steve Howell, Kepler mission project scientist at Ames. "It is no longer a question of will we find a true Earth analogue, but a question of when."

The complete list of Kepler planet candidates is available in an interactive table at the NASA Exoplanet Archive. The archive is funded by NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program to collect and make public data to support the search for and characterization of exoplanets and their host stars.

Ames manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with JPL at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

JPL manages NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program. The NASA Exoplanet Archive is hosted at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology.

For information about the NASA Exoplanet Archive, visit:

http://exoplanetarchive.ipac.caltech.edu/index.html


For information about the Kepler Mission, visit:


http://www.nasa.gov/kepler


 
- end -
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: RocketEconomist327 on 01/18/2013 05:42 PM
Sad to see Kepler having problems.  Arguably the best SMD mission I have watched from inception to launch and mission execution.

Quote from: Kepler Report
Earlier this month during a semi-weekly contact with the spacecraft, the team detected an increase in the amount of torque required to spin one of the three remaining reaction wheels. This increase in friction occurred before the Jan. 11, 2013 quarterly roll, and persisted after the spacecraft roll and several momentum desaturations of the reaction wheels. Increased friction over a prolonged period can lead to accumulated wear on the reaction wheel, and possible wheel failure. To minimize wheel friction, the team implemented several mitigations including increased operating temperatures, higher spin rates, and bi-directional operation following the failure of reaction wheel #2 in July 2012.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20130117.html

VR
RE327
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 01/19/2013 03:46 PM
Sad to see Kepler having problems.  Arguably the best SMD mission I have watched from inception to launch and mission execution.


Indeed. An incredible spacecraft
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 01/19/2013 07:16 PM
Sad to see Kepler having problems.  Arguably the best SMD mission I have watched from inception to launch and mission execution.

Quote from: Kepler Report
Earlier this month during a semi-weekly contact with the spacecraft, the team detected an increase in the amount of torque required to spin one of the three remaining reaction wheels. This increase in friction occurred before the Jan. 11, 2013 quarterly roll, and persisted after the spacecraft roll and several momentum desaturations of the reaction wheels. Increased friction over a prolonged period can lead to accumulated wear on the reaction wheel, and possible wheel failure. To minimize wheel friction, the team implemented several mitigations including increased operating temperatures, higher spin rates, and bi-directional operation following the failure of reaction wheel #2 in July 2012.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20130117.html

VR
RE327

I hope it can manage to last the time it needs to complete its observations, sounds like it is in precarious position.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: LouScheffer on 01/20/2013 03:03 AM
Quote from: Kepler Report
Earlier this month during a semi-weekly contact with the spacecraft, the team detected an increase in the amount of torque required to spin one of the three remaining reaction wheels.

These reaction wheels fail often, on many missions.  Usually it seems to be bearing problems.  There must be some reason why they cannot use some sort of non-contact bearing - gas film, oil film, magnetic bearing, etc.  Does anyone know what the reason(s) are?

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/20/2013 04:34 AM
I am no expert on aerospace bearings, either. But it does seem to be a limiting factor in a lot of spacecraft, almost as much as propellant (a problem which I think gets a lot more idle and non-idle brain cycles... people have thought up electric thrusters and refueling). How much research is there on longer life gyros? I haven't noticed any while examining SBIR solicitations, but that could be because I was more interested in things like electric thrusters, etc.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ngc3314 on 01/27/2013 07:44 PM
One of the Kepler scientists visited our campus this week, and at lunch I rather indelicately brought up the reaction wheels. He had a couple of comments which surprised me. Apparently there are $105 reaction wheels and $106 reaction wheels, and the constant budget tradeoffs often mean that science missions use the $105 kind. A panel of acknowledged reaction-wheel experts convened to advise on how Kepler operations should react, and their experiences led to a wide divergence of opinion. I seem to recall hearing the phrase "black magic" at least once.

In hindsight, these often are the weak link in space observatory lifetimes (sometimes you have to dig a bit to distinguish between problems with the sensing units as distinct from the reaction wheels used to provide torque). Spares are obviously good - one interesting approach to avoid a complete set of spares is to add a fourth at an axis angled to each of the three primary ones, giving some control authority (with a new control law) along whichever axis has a failure first. For attitude sensing, star trackers can often provide equivalent information on some axes within a limited range - HST operated like this for several years so as to spin down one gyro as an effective spare, and both IUE and FUSE used this strategy to extend their usable lifetimes.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 01/28/2013 02:34 AM
That was a GREAT answer! Thanks!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: LouScheffer on 01/28/2013 02:37 AM
One of the Kepler scientists visited our campus this week, and at lunch I rather indelicately brought up the reaction wheels. He had a couple of comments which surprised me. Apparently there are $105 reaction wheels and $106 reaction wheels, and the constant budget tradeoffs often mean that science missions use the $105 kind.
This makes sense.  I found an AMSAT project that was developing magnetic bearing wheels for small satellites.  It said there were already 3  vendors for magnetic bearing wheels for big satellites, mostly geosynchronous.  Also here is an article about flown magnetic bearings in 1997:
http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu//full/1997ESASP.381..649S/0000649.000.html
So it sounds like more reliable wheels do exist, so it's a budget and not a technology problem.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: LouScheffer on 01/28/2013 02:46 AM
Apparently there are $105 reaction wheels and $106 reaction wheels, and the constant budget tradeoffs often mean that science missions use the $105 kind.

This would also explain why you often hear of reaction wheel failures on scientific craft, but seldom on geosynchronous satellites.   Here's another link to a vendor of such wheels, so they are definitely available.
http://www.rockwellcollins.com/sitecore/content/Data/Products/Space_Components/Satellite_Stabilization_Wheels/Magnetic_Bearing_Momentum_and_Reaction_Wheel.aspx
This one can also change its rotation axis by 1.7 degrees, so it can supply at least some control to the other axes.  This could be a huge help in providing graceful degradation in failure cases.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: LouScheffer on 01/30/2013 12:58 AM
Sad to see Kepler having problems.  Arguably the best SMD mission I have watched from inception to launch and mission execution.

OK, after letting the reaction wheels rest for 10 days, they've restarted them.  So far, so good, but keep your fingers crossed....
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20132901.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 02/20/2013 05:42 PM
Quote
The discovery of a strange new world about the size of Earth's moon has shattered the record for the smallest known alien planet, scientists say.

The newfound alien planet Kepler-37b is the first exoplanet discovered to be smaller than Mercury. It whips around its parent star every 13 days and has a roasting surface temperature of about 800 degrees Fahrenheit (427 Celsius), researchers said. It not a promising contender for life, they added.

Astronomers found Kepler-37b and two other, larger planets (called Kepler-37c and Kepler-37d) orbiting a star about 215 light-years from Earth using NASA's prolific Kepler space telescope. Finding such a small exoplanet with the Kepler spacecraft was a stretch, but some attributes of Kepler-37b's parent star made the discovery possible.

http://www.space.com/19874-smallest-alien-planet-moon-size.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Quindar Beep on 02/20/2013 06:35 PM
Quote
The discovery of a strange new world about the size of Earth's moon has shattered the record for the smallest known alien planet, scientists say.

This is actually over-stating what the scientists said. They were pretty careful to add the qualifier "around a sun-like star". PSR B1257+12A is still the record-holder for smallest planet (it's about half the size of Kepler-37b), but it's an oddball -- a pulsar planet, which class of planets is probably formed differently from regular planets and is thus a rather different beast.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Hungry4info3 on 02/20/2013 07:26 PM
PSR B1257+12A is still the record-holder for smallest planet (it's about half the size of Kepler-37b)

It's size is completely unknown. Only a minimum mass is known. Being at least twice as massive as our Moon, it could very well be physically larger than Kepler-37b.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robert Thompson on 03/30/2013 04:37 PM
http://www.hadrosaur.com/kepler.html

"Thirteen stories about distant worlds that really exist

A new anthology of action-packed, mysterious, and humorous stories all based on real planets discovered by the NASA Kepler mission. Edited by and contributing stories are David Lee Summers—best selling author of Owl Dance, The Pirates of Sufiro, and other novels—and Steve B. Howell, project scientist for the Kepler mission. Whether on a prison colony, in a fast escape from the authorities, or encircling a binary star, thirteen exoplanet stories written by authors such as Mike Brotherton, Laura Givens, and J Alan Erwine will amuse, frighten, and intrigue you while you share fantasy adventures among Kepler's real-life planets.

Projected ship date: June 15, 2013 "
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 04/15/2013 06:30 PM
MEDIA ADVISORY: M13-062

NASA HOSTS MEDIA BRIEFING TO DISCUSS KEPLER PLANETARY DISCOVERY

WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a news briefing at 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday,
April 18, to announce new discoveries from the agency's Kepler
mission.

The briefing will be held in the Syvertson Auditorium, Building N-201,
at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and be
broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency's website.

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets
in or near the habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a
star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be
suitable for liquid water. Launched in 2009, the Kepler space
telescope is detecting planets and planet candidates with a wide
range of sizes and orbital distances to help us better understand our
place in the galaxy.

The briefing participants are:

-- Paul Hertz, astrophysics director, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- Roger Hunter, Kepler project manager, Ames
-- William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator, Ames
-- Thomas Barclay, Kepler scientist, Bay Area Environmental Research
Institute, Sonoma, Calif.
-- Lisa Kaltenegger, research group leader, Max Planck Institute for
Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany, and research associate,
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.

News media representatives may attend in-person or by teleconference.
To register or obtain dial-in information, contact Michele Johnson at
650-604-4789 or michele.johnson@nasa.gov by noon EDT Thursday, April
18.

To reach Ames, take U.S. Highway 101 to the Moffett Field-NASA Parkway
exit and drive east toward the main gate. Media representatives must
obtain a badge at the Visitor Badge Office, located at the main gate.


News media representatives and the public may submit questions via
Twitter to #AskNASA.

For NASA TV streaming video, scheduling and downlink information,
visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

The event also will be streamed live on Ustream at:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-arc

For more information about the Kepler mission and to view the digital
press kit, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chris Bergin on 04/15/2013 06:34 PM
Could be exciting!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: catdlr on 04/16/2013 11:13 PM
Second media advisory with streamed video links:

Advisory: 2013-137                                                                   
April 16, 2013

NASA Hosts Media Briefing on Kepler Planetary Discovery



The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-137&cid=release_2013-137

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA will host a news briefing at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT), Thursday, April 18, to announce new discoveries from the agency's Kepler mission.

The briefing will be held at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and will be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency's website.

The briefing will also be streamed live at: http://www.ustream.tv/NASAJPL2, with a moderated Web chat featuring Kepler Deputy Project Scientist Nick Gautier of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The briefing will also be broadcast live at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-arc .

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water. Launched in 2009, the Kepler space telescope is detecting planets and planet candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help us better understand our place in the galaxy.

The briefing participants are:

-- Paul Hertz, astrophysics director, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- Roger Hunter, Kepler project manager, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
-- William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator, Ames Research Center
-- Thomas Barclay, Kepler scientist, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute, Sonoma, Calif.
-- Lisa Kaltenegger, research group leader, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany, and research associate, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.


News media representatives and the public may submit questions for the news conference participants via Twitter to #AskNASA.

For NASA TV streaming video, scheduling and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv .

For more information about the Kepler mission and to view the digital press kit, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler .

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

Michele Johnson 650-604-4789
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
michele.johnson@nasa.gov

J.D. Harrington 202-358-5241
Headquarters, Washington
j.d.harrington@nasa.gov

- end -
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jcm on 04/17/2013 12:52 AM
Could be exciting!

Yes - I think you will find their results to be of interest.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robert Thompson on 04/17/2013 04:35 AM
Hi Prof McDowell,

I spoke with you at some length at the Long Beach AAS at the exoplanet poster Hot Jupiter WASP-77Ab. Ian Crossfield of Max Planck initiated collaboration with our UA Astronomy Club and we have taken two full and three partial transits of M-dwarf Hot Neptune GJ3470b on our 61" Kuiper telescope. The Junior I stood beside (Lauren, WASP-26b) is going to be Ian's lead author on a large collaborative paper for GJ3470b. Just letting you know your encouragement bears fruit. Fund me, maybe? :)

Robert Thompson
B.S. Astronomy UA Steward Observatory

Regarding Kepler, my adviser has said, curiously, that Kepler should have already found the TTVs indicating hot Jupiter moons, but has not, and that this should be concerning. Is he misinformed regarding detection limits and/or minimum integration time?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Hungry4info3 on 04/18/2013 12:49 PM
Regarding Kepler, my adviser has said, curiously, that Kepler should have already found the TTVs indicating hot Jupiter moons, but has not, and that this should be concerning. Is he misinformed regarding detection limits and/or minimum integration time?

It's not likely a detection limit issue, but a physical limits issue on the existence of moons orbiting hot Jupiters. Hot Jupiters have very small Hill Spheres (because they are so close to their stars), so any exomoons would need to orbit very closely to the planet.

With hot Jupiters (almost certainly) being tidally locked to the star, they have rotation periods on the order of a couple days. This places the synchronous orbit radius around a hot Jupiter well above the Hill sphere radius. Therefore, any exomoons around hot Jupiters will have their orbits tidally decay, depositing the exomoon into the planet. Decreasing the exomoons mass gives it some more time, but the mass we're talking about to permit the longevity of the exomoon to exist to the current day tends to be on the order of Phobos-sized bodies.

I do not expect Kepler to discover hot Jupiter exomoons. Not because of technical reasons, but because I simply do not expect detectable exomoons around hot Jupiters to exist.

Edit: Clarifications
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robert Thompson on 04/18/2013 01:59 PM
Huh, I thought I was typing a question, 'moons around Jupiters in the habitable zones'.  :-X Thank you, Hungry4info3. (I've known what you are explaining.) How about that question, but with respect to Jupiter+ mass planets in habitable zones, ~1 AU around ~G stars. I.e., should it be concerning that not one exomoon has been found? I don't know if there have been any exomoon candidates / KOI.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Hungry4info3 on 04/18/2013 02:14 PM
Ahh, understood!  :D

Here's a fairly recent paper about habitable exomoon detection. It looks like it may be feasible for moons of particularly high mass, but such massive moons aren't really what you would expect to find anyway.
http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.2925

This paper found some tentative exomoon host candidates (though this explanation is in no way unique).
http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.7229

Finding exomoons through their transits of course doesn't work because the changing position of the exomoon around the planet makes it hard to just stack transits. On the other hand, the transits of exomoons could inject noise in stacked lightcurves centred on the planet.
http://arxiv.org/abs/1108.4557
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jcm on 04/18/2013 04:12 PM
Hi Prof McDowell,

I spoke with you at some length at the Long Beach AAS at the exoplanet poster Hot Jupiter WASP-77Ab. Ian Crossfield of Max Planck initiated collaboration with our UA Astronomy Club and we have taken two full and three partial transits of M-dwarf Hot Neptune GJ3470b on our 61" Kuiper telescope. The Junior I stood beside (Lauren, WASP-26b) is going to be Ian's lead author on a large collaborative paper for GJ3470b. Just letting you know your encouragement bears fruit. Fund me, maybe? :)

Robert Thompson
B.S. Astronomy UA Steward Observatory

Regarding Kepler, my adviser has said, curiously, that Kepler should have already found the TTVs indicating hot Jupiter moons, but has not, and that this should be concerning. Is he misinformed regarding detection limits and/or minimum integration time?

Hi Robert, of course I remember talking with you and Lauren at AAS.
That's great news about the transits.
I only wish I had funding! I just learnt that the postdoc who did most of the actual work on the exciting Kepler results to be announced today hasn't been able to get a new position and is considering leaving the field - it's a bit of a depressing time. But I am optimistic that by the time you guys get your PhDs the economic pendulum will have swung back again.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/18/2013 06:03 PM
Quote
We're a step closer to knowing if our galaxy is home to a multitude of planets like Earth or if we are a rarity. The three habitable zone super-Earth-size planets are in two systems containing a total of seven newly discovered planets:

http://kepler.nasa.gov/news/nasakeplernews/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=243
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jcm on 04/18/2013 06:48 PM
Here's my writeup from my newsletter:
NASA has announced the discovery of Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f,  the
second and third Earth/super-Earth-sized planets found in the 'habitable zone' of
their parent star. (Most of my readers are currently on living the first
Earth-size planet found in its star's habitable zone). Kepler-62e is 1.6
Earth radii (Re) and Kepler-62f is only 1.4 Re. (In addition, a   
super-Venus, Kepler-69c, is reported.)

The Kepler space telescope is in a 0.98 x 1.05 AU x 0.5 deg solar orbit.
On Apr 18 it was trailing Earth by 25.2 deg at a distance of 3.7 minutes.

One of the challenges for Kepler is to confirm that its planet
candidates are really planets. Postdoc Francois Fressin developed the
Blender code to validate whether Kepler signals are planets or fakes
from a blend of eclipsing binary stars - this was first used to confirm
the 2.2-Earth-radius planet Kepler-10c in 2011. Fressin was also involved
in the discovery of the first Earth-sized Kepler planets.

The planet Kepler-22b, announced in Dec 2011, was the first transiting exoplanet
in its star's habitable zone but it is over twice the linear size of Earth
and may be a mini-Neptune class planet.

A paper submitted to Science with Kepler mission lead Bill Borucki
as first author reports analysis of a new Kepler system, Kepler-62,
with multiple planets including two Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone.
Fressin's analysis confirmed that the candidate planets were real.

Theorist Lisa Kaltenegger of Heidelberg has studied the extent of the
habitable zone around stars and the structure of the atmospheres of
Earths, super-Earths, waterworlds and mini-Neptunes. Kaltenegger's
paper, with Dimitar Sasselov and  grad student Sarah Rugheimer, shows
that Kepler-62e and 62f could be Type I ocean planets, waterworlds made
mostly of H2O. (Earth's *surface* is water but water is only 0.02
percent of Earth's total bulk mass).
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/18/2013 06:54 PM
I don't know where the full press release has gone, every time I hit the link it said the page had been moved?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jcm on 04/18/2013 07:04 PM
I don't know where the full press release has gone, every time I hit the link it said the page had been moved?

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepler-62-kepler-69.html

btw Chris, feel free to reuse anything in my rant above
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/18/2013 07:14 PM
I don't know where the full press release has gone, every time I hit the link it said the page had been moved?

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepler-62-kepler-69.html

btw Chris, feel free to reuse anything in my rant above

I am still getting the same page not found. ???
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: A8-3 on 04/18/2013 07:34 PM
I don't know where the full press release has gone, every time I hit the link it said the page had been moved?

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/kepler-62-kepler-69.html

btw Chris, feel free to reuse anything in my rant above

I am still getting the same page not found. ???


The link is working for me.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: John44 on 04/18/2013 08:11 PM
NASA Kepler Science Update - April 18
http://www.space-multimedia.nl.eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8211
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 04/19/2013 12:43 AM
This is huge news.  Likely rocky world in habitable zone.  Next step would be to get future telescopes on line to get more data on its atmosphere and mass.  But that's for another board topic.

Congratulations Kepler!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 04/19/2013 12:53 AM
This is huge news.  Likely rocky world in habitable zone.  Next step would be to get future telescopes on line to get more data on its atmosphere and mass.  But that's for another board topic.

Congratulations Kepler!

Indeed, quite a discovery. I congratulate the teams.

This is quite a spacecraft they built!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 04/19/2013 06:09 AM
I suspect Kepler will be known as one of NASA's great robotic missions along with Hubble and the Voyagers.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 04/19/2013 06:52 PM
I like the beginning of CNN's story on this:

"(CNN) -- In the midst of chaos here on Earth, scientists are finding hope for life on other planets."


http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html?hpt=hp_inthenews

Sad, but true. At least the bravery of others continues to show remarkable potential for our species, both in Boston & in Texas
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: SoCalEric on 04/22/2013 08:07 PM
I like the beginning of CNN's story on this:

"(CNN) -- In the midst of chaos here on Earth, scientists are finding hope for life on other planets."


http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html?hpt=hp_inthenews

Sad, but true. At least the bravery of others continues to show remarkable potential for our species, both in Boston & in Texas

Thanks for sharing!

Above, a journalist covering Kepler has Waco/Boston on his mind. Imagine, In wonder, if more journalists covering Waco/Boston had Kepler on their mind. What better world it migh be to see a NY Times general news section article begin, for example, with "In the midst of the recent 62's, here's how we're fairing today on earth with the either/or extremes of liberty vs security&regulation," where it would be redundantor even insulting to the reader to have to point out Teff for 62e vs 62f.

I sense that the journalist above is implying "if we humans are screwed, maybe some other species is doing better," which might evoke a natural sentiment of  "yeah, but at least some of us are inspirationally good."

I can't help but wonder if eventual knowledge of other cultures, or likihood thereof, might change general perception of earth chaos for the better. If most humans, for example, generally believed, for ever-increasing good reason, that there were many Wacos/Bostons going on right now on other worlds, each with is own quotients of bravery and other good things, would that shift to a more universal (larger) mindset make people here want to be or expect better?

I guess it's a completely separate question of whether people seing off-earth human colonies evolving would have the opposite effect, a kind of "dump earth / do better elsewhere" effect. That versus "humans can do better elsewhere --> they can do better anywhere --> they can do better here."

Back to the journalist's implication of non-chaos or less-chaos elsewhere, I've really grown to appreciate the time dimension for what it is. Venus-Earth-Mars, for example, as a trio 4bya vs 3bya vs 2bya, vs 1bya vs today. 2 million past years (?) of heightened glaciation cycles on earth recently and was it one or two snowball-earth periods within the past billion years... That sounds like a certain type of creative chaos, at some timescale, to me, which i wouldn't expect any other planetary systems to be immune from.

Anyay, as, a newbie here, I've appreciated all the good posts. I had one questions on Kepler. Forgive me if I've missed these somewhere earlier. (Some of these threads get very long).

(1) Has the Kepler team to date more or less released only about half the data collected? We're close on 3 years (?) = 12 quarters by now, but the most recent release was on the firs 6 (?) quarters? If that's even remotely correct, it seems like the biggest story would be about anticipation there, with 3 detections needed to trigger candidacy. Granted yellow stars are uncommon, if one was looking for "earthlike" planets of the type that had a period of about one earth year then that would require 3 years of data. I haven't notice at least mainstream coverage drawing attention to that.

(2) Astrosisemology. Wouldn't the Kepler team itself by now have standardized a data product that reports fourier star cycles for the stars ofmall KOI's? I've seen a few independent papers that have done this leading to, if nothing else, a ten fold reduction in uncertainty for diameter and mass, based on star mass constraints that the higher frequncy luminosity variations dictate.

Thanks.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jcm on 04/23/2013 12:23 AM
I like the beginning of CNN's story on this:

"(CNN) -- In the midst of chaos here on Earth, scientists are finding hope for life on other planets."


http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html?hpt=hp_inthenews

Sad, but true. At least the bravery of others continues to show remarkable potential for our species, both in Boston & in Texas

Especially poignant as many of the coauthors on the discovery paper live in Cambridge and Watertown.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 04/28/2013 06:46 AM
Another potentially habitable planet found, Kepler 61b.  Potentially on the warm/hot side (avg. temp 40 deg C assuming earthlike atmosphere).  More info here, in this interesting article saying there are now 10 potentially habitable exoplanets:

http://phl.upr.edu/press-releases/tenpotentiallyhabitableexoplanetsnow
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Galactic Penguin SST on 05/15/2013 05:45 PM

May 15, 2013
 
MEDIA ADVISORY : M13-078
 
NASA Hosts Kepler Spacecraft Status Teleconference Today
 
WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a news teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT, today, May 15, to discuss the status of the agency's Kepler Space Telescope.

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water. Launched in 2009, Kepler has been detecting planets and planet candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help scientists better understand our place in the galaxy.

The briefing participants are:
-- John Grunsfeld, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- Paul Hertz, astrophysics director, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator, Ames Research Center, Calif.
-- Charles Sobeck, deputy project manager, Ames Research Center, Calif.

For dial-in information, journalists should e-mail their name, affiliation and telephone number to J.D. Harrington at j.d.harrington@nasa.gov. Media representatives and the public also can questions via Twitter to #AskNASA.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live on NASA's website at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio


For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:


http://www.nasa.gov/kepler



 
- end -

================================================================================

I am seeing rumors that Kepler has went into safe mode again and may well spell the end of its exoplanet hunting mission. Hope that this is not what happened.....  :'(
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 05/15/2013 07:31 PM
I am seeing rumors that Kepler has went into safe mode again and may well spell the end of its exoplanet hunting mission. Hope that this is not what happened.....  :'(

Doesn't sound good. I suspect the dodgy reaction wheel has died. If so it is sadly the end of the primary mission:-(
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 05/15/2013 09:11 PM
Doesn't sound good. I suspect the dodgy reaction wheel has died. If so it is sadly the end of the primary mission:-(

Entered Point Rest safe mode after loss of pointing accuracy.  Reaction wheel 4 has stalled and won't restart, so likely the end of exoplanet data gathering.  Still lots of analysis to do though.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: sanman on 05/15/2013 09:34 PM
So what kind of redundancy does Kepler have for its reaction wheel system?

Is there a potential case for adding more redundancy for this in future similar spacecraft?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Nickolai on 05/15/2013 09:48 PM
So what kind of redundancy does Kepler have for its reaction wheel system?

Is there a potential case for adding more redundancy for this in future similar spacecraft?

From http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1304/11kepler/#.UZQBd7WG3TA

Quote
One of the mission's four reaction wheels stopped working last year, and officials are worried another wheel could fail at any time. Three wheels are needed to keep the observatory pointed toward a field of stars looking for signs of planets.
That was on April 11,2013, so clearly the one that managers were concerned about has failed.

AFAIK, these reaction wheels are pretty bulky, so as far as redundancy goes they put in just one spare, which in this case bought them a year of extra time.

You can always make the case for more wheels/more redundancy but in the end there's a number of constraints. Cost, schedule, weight, complexity, reliability. A better approach for future spacecraft would probably be to learn what happened to these reaction wheels and make future ones more reliable.

Just my 2 cents :)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 05/15/2013 10:04 PM
Sorry to hear this.

I thought it was possible to still do some science with just the two wheels working?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Lee Jay on 05/15/2013 10:17 PM
Doesn't sound good. I suspect the dodgy reaction wheel has died. If so it is sadly the end of the primary mission:-(

Entered Point Rest safe mode after loss of pointing accuracy.  Reaction wheel 4 has stalled and won't restart, so likely the end of exoplanet data gathering.  Still lots of analysis to do though.

There was talk, at one point, of restarting the first one that was shut down.  I don't know if that's on the list or not.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Jim on 05/15/2013 10:32 PM
So what kind of redundancy does Kepler have for its reaction wheel system?

Is there a potential case for adding more redundancy for this in future similar spacecraft?

It has redundancy.  It already surpassed its design life.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: AnalogMan on 05/15/2013 10:45 PM
Kepler Mission Manager Update
May 15, 2013
 
At our semi-weekly contact on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, we found the Kepler spacecraft once again in safe mode. As was the case earlier this month, this was a Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode. The root cause is not yet known, however the proximate cause appears to be an attitude error. The spacecraft was oriented with the solar panels facing the sun, slowly spinning about the sun-line. The communication link comes and goes as the spacecraft spins.

We attempted to return to reaction wheel control as the spacecraft rotated into communication, and commanded a stop rotation. Initially, it appeared that all three wheels responded and that rotation had been successfully stopped, but reaction wheel 4 remained at full torque while the spin rate dropped to zero. This is a clear indication that there has been an internal failure within the reaction wheel, likely a structural failure of the wheel bearing. The spacecraft was then transitioned back to Thruster-Controlled Safe Mode.

An Anomaly Review Board concurred that the data appear to unambiguously indicate a wheel 4 failure, and that the team’s priority is to complete preparations to enter Point Rest State. Point Rest State is a loosely-pointed, thruster-controlled state that minimizes fuels usage while providing a continuous X-band communication downlink. The software to execute that state was loaded to the spacecraft last week, and last night the team completed the upload of the parameters the software will use.

The spacecraft is stable and safe, if still burning fuel. Our fuel budget is sufficient that we can take due caution while we finish our planning. In its current mode, our fuel will last for several months. Point Rest State would extend that period to years.

We have requested and received additional NASA Deep Space Network communication coverage, and this morning the Anomaly Review Board approved the transition to Point Rest State later today. Because this is a new operating mode of the spacecraft, the team will closely monitor the spacecraft, but no other immediate actions are planned. We will take the next several days and weeks to assess our options and develop new command products. These options are likely to include steps to attempt to recover wheel functionality and to investigate the utility of a hybrid mode, using both wheels and thrusters.

With the failure of a second reaction wheel, it's unlikely that the spacecraft will be able to return to the high pointing accuracy that enables its high-precision photometry. However, no decision has been made to end data collection.

Kepler had successfully completed its primary three-and-a-half year mission and entered an extended mission phase in November 2012.

Even if data collection were to end, the mission has substantial quantities of data on the ground yet to be fully analyzed, and the string of scientific discoveries is expected to continue for years to come.

Updates will be provided as information is available.

Regards,
The Kepler Team

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20130515.html (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20130515.html)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Lee Jay on 05/15/2013 10:52 PM
So what kind of redundancy does Kepler have for its reaction wheel system?

Is there a potential case for adding more redundancy for this in future similar spacecraft?

It has redundancy.  It already surpassed its design life.

I think Opportunity's design-life exceedance ratio has us spoiled!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jimvela on 05/15/2013 10:56 PM
AFAIK, these reaction wheels are pretty bulky, so as far as redundancy goes they put in just one spare, which in this case bought them a year of extra time.

Kepler flew with tungsten ballast, cost was the concern not mass.

Quote
You can always make the case for more wheels/more redundancy but in the end there's a number of constraints. Cost, schedule, weight, complexity, reliability.

Armchair pundits always assume that this wasn't done- but it absolutely was.  As one of my colleagues points out, one can buy $10^5 reaction wheels, or one can buy $10^6 reaction wheels.

Kepler at one point was in budget trouble, and program leadership made the bold decisions necessary to get the system on orbit and returning science.  The alternative was cancellation and no science return at all.  Guess which class of wheels the program could afford? 


Quote
A better approach for future spacecraft would probably be to learn what happened to these reaction wheels and make future ones more reliable.

A better approach would be to continue to fund development of new technologies to the point where they could be used on exploration or science missions.  For example, there was discussion about some kind of deployable sail or device to balance solar torques- but no such devices are available and mature enough to risk a great observatory on.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Jim on 05/15/2013 11:04 PM


AFAIK, these reaction wheels are pretty bulky, so as far as redundancy goes they put in just one spare, which in this case bought them a year of extra time.

You can always make the case for more wheels/more redundancy but in the end there's a number of constraints. Cost, schedule, weight, complexity, reliability. A better approach for future spacecraft would probably be to learn what happened to these reaction wheels and make future ones more reliable.


These were reliable enough.  It exceeded the design life.  There ones with longer design lives, just more expensive.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: iamlucky13 on 05/15/2013 11:13 PM
So what kind of redundancy does Kepler have for its reaction wheel system?

Is there a potential case for adding more redundancy for this in future similar spacecraft?

It has redundancy.  It already surpassed its design life.

I think Opportunity's design-life exceedance ratio has us spoiled!

Quite a few different spacecraft have spoiled us. SOHO is a better mission to compare against, since it also depends on reaction wheels. It had a 2 year primary mission, and a pre-planned 4 year extension. It is currently 17 years in and still going.

Of course, as jimvela points out, Kepler had a more restricted budget than SOHO, and it still managed to meet its design life, and more importantly, meet one of its primary goals of setting a lower bound on the estimated numbers of detectable exoplanets. There's a lot of new exoplanet targets to choose from now for study by higher resolution observatories, with 132 confirmed discoveries so far, 2740 candidates, and a decent stack of data still to sift through.

I wonder if the team can potentially calibrate multiple pixels around each target star to give them close to the same photometric accuracy while relying on less accurate pointing, albeit with more data processing being necessary. If I understand right, the processing to do this would have to take place aboard Kepler, due to bandwidth constraints.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 05/16/2013 01:58 AM
If this is the end of the road for Kepler's planet hunting mission, at least the craft discovered Kepler 62e and 62f before the gyro gave out.  Kepler did a great job, opened a new frontier of exploration.  Hoping TESS and other missions can discover a true earth analog soon!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jimvela on 05/16/2013 05:09 AM
If this is the end of the road for Kepler's planet hunting mission, at least the craft discovered Kepler 62e and 62f before the gyro gave out.  Kepler did a great job, opened a new frontier of exploration.  Hoping TESS and other missions can discover a true earth analog soon!

There is still Kepler data in the science pipeline! 

Kepler isn't done giving us discoveries, it will be many years of discoveries from the data set that it has returned.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 05/16/2013 07:55 AM
I wonder if the team can potentially calibrate multiple pixels around each target star to give them close to the same photometric accuracy while relying on less accurate pointing, albeit with more data processing being necessary. If I understand right, the processing to do this would have to take place aboard Kepler, due to bandwidth constraints.

Generally the aperture for each target is already multiple pixels and the processing is done on the ground.  To do what you're suggesting would make the optimal aperture for each target significantly larger.  This means light from other stars would be included.

The Kepler data is already limited by dilution from nearby stars and, in particular, eclipsing binaries.  So I don't think trying to collect data from the current target list works.

I've heard speculation about use for finding NEOs which might be possible using two wheels + thrusters.  And it might just be possible to look for transits around bright stars while doing this, but this has problems (e.g. charge-bleed).
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 05/16/2013 08:00 AM
There is still Kepler data in the science pipeline! 

Indeed there is!  Lots of it . . . there were some 18,000 "threshold crossing events" still to examine in the Q1-Q13 data and data from Q14, Q15 and a partial Q16 will increase that.

Many of these will be false-positives but there are many real candidates in there as well, and I'd be astonished is some didn't have a better ESI than Kepler 62e/f.
 
Quote
Kepler isn't done giving us discoveries, it will be many years of discoveries from the data set that it has returned.

I think Boruki said on the conference call last night that there is at least two years of just data analysis and about a decade of work in total . . .
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chris Bergin on 05/16/2013 07:30 PM
If you're in the UK, there's a pretty decent show on Channel 5 about Kepler's findings and what potential aliens would look like if they were on those planets.

Not as silly as it sounds. Got some decent scientists on.

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: gospacex on 05/16/2013 07:34 PM
AFAIK, these reaction wheels are pretty bulky, so as far as redundancy goes they put in just one spare, which in this case bought them a year of extra time.

You can always make the case for more wheels/more redundancy but in the end there's a number of constraints. Cost, schedule, weight, complexity, reliability. A better approach for future spacecraft would probably be to learn what happened to these reaction wheels and make future ones more reliable.

These were reliable enough.  It exceeded the design life.  There ones with longer design lives, just more expensive.

Jim, what sums we are talking about here?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 05/16/2013 08:45 PM
Not as silly as it sounds. Got some decent scientists on.

Watching it on 5+1. It's got all the usual suspects: Marcy gets on all these things:-). But more unusually folks like Charbonneau who's done a bunch of work on M dwarfs. Made in 2012, I think based on numbers of candidates.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jimvela on 05/16/2013 10:28 PM
AFAIK, these reaction wheels are pretty bulky, so as far as redundancy goes they put in just one spare, which in this case bought them a year of extra time.

You can always make the case for more wheels/more redundancy but in the end there's a number of constraints. Cost, schedule, weight, complexity, reliability. A better approach for future spacecraft would probably be to learn what happened to these reaction wheels and make future ones more reliable.

These were reliable enough.  It exceeded the design life.  There ones with longer design lives, just more expensive.

Jim, what sums we are talking about here?

[different jim  :) ]

It's in the ballpark of $X*10^5 vs Y*10^6  (*4 for the spacecraft).

It isn't the only design trade or programmatic cost / benefit decision that impacted mission life (e.g. the gimbal for the HGA was deleted).

The manufacturer of the Kepler wheels is widely known.

"If we could only spend a few more millions" stopped being an option during the Kepler program, so very difficult and disciplined decisions were made.  It worked.  We got Kepler launched and it eventually went into extended mission.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: baldusi on 05/16/2013 11:32 PM
I wonder if Kepler could be used to look into Alpha Centauri, for example. That's three starts with at least one candidate. Of course they are so close that simple land based telescopes should be enough. But maybe some other targets in the 100ly range.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 05/17/2013 07:20 PM
If you're in the UK, there's a pretty decent show on Channel 5 about Kepler's findings and what potential aliens would look like if they were on those planets.

Not as silly as it sounds. Got some decent scientists on.



Saw that, rather unfortunate timing though considering.

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: LouScheffer on 05/24/2013 02:26 AM
I was trying to figure the odds of Kepler recovery.  To complete the extended mission, they need to (a) restart at least one wheel, and (b) have this wheel, and the other 2, last 8 years total.  So I looked at the other missions that used these wheels:

FUSE was launched June 1999 on a three year mission.  All four wheels failed (2.4 years, 2.5 years, 5.5 years, 8.1 years).  Since they had 2-axis control with magnetic torquers, they could work around all but the last failure. They tried to restart all 4; none succeeded.

HAYABUSA was launched May 2003 on a 4 year intended mission.  2 of 3 wheels failed, at 2.2 years and 2.5 years.  Last one worked until re-entry (7 years).  Failures were worked around since imaging was complete and thrusters could be used after that.

DAWN was launched Sept 2007, on an 8 year mission.  2 of 4 wheels have failed so far; 2.75 years, and 4.9 years.  Currently using thrusters + wheels.

So it does not look good for Kepler.  No dead wheel has ever been restarted that I could find.  Even if it does restart, of the 11 wheels on other missions, at most 4 will make it to eight years, assuming the last Hayabusa wheel would have made it, and the two remaining Dawn wheels keep working.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jimvela on 05/24/2013 02:58 AM
I was trying to figure the odds of Kepler recovery. 

So it does not look good for Kepler. 

I'm highly constrained with respect to what I can say (vs. what I'd really like to say about those wheels)...

Read this:
http://www.nature.com/news/the-wheels-come-off-kepler-1.13032
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Lar on 05/24/2013 03:15 AM
I was trying to figure the odds of Kepler recovery. 

So it does not look good for Kepler. 

I'm highly constrained with respect to what I can say (vs. what I'd really like to say about those wheels)...

Read this:
http://www.nature.com/news/the-wheels-come-off-kepler-1.13032

Thanks. That puts a new spin[1] on a lot of things...

1 - ya, I went there. Gotta go.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: catdlr on 06/06/2013 06:18 PM
News release: 2013-190                                                                    Jun. 6, 2013

Stars Don't Obliterate Their Planets (Very Often)



The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-190&cid=release_2013-190

Stars have an alluring pull on planets, especially those in a class called hot Jupiters, which are gas giants that form farther from their stars before migrating inward and heating up.

Now, a new study using data from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope shows that hot Jupiters, despite their close-in orbits, are not regularly consumed by their stars. Instead, the planets remain in fairly stable orbits for billions of years, until the day comes when they may ultimately get eaten.

"Eventually, all hot Jupiters get closer and closer to their stars, but in this study we are showing that this process stops before the stars get too close," said Peter Plavchan of NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. "The planets mostly stabilize once their orbits become circular, whipping around their stars every few days."

The study, published recently in the Astrophysical Journal, is the first to demonstrate how the hot Jupiter planets halt their inward march on stars. Gravitational, or tidal, forces of a star circularize and stabilize a planet's orbit; when its orbit finally become circular, the migration ceases.

"When only a few hot Jupiters were known, several models could explain the observations," said Jack Lissauer, a Kepler scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, Calif., not affiliated with the study. "But finding trends in populations of these planets shows that tides, in combination with gravitational forces by often unseen planetary and stellar companions, can bring these giant planets close to their host stars."

Hot Jupiters are giant balls of gas that resemble Jupiter in mass and composition. They don't begin life under the glare of a sun, but form in the chilly outer reaches, as Jupiter did in our solar system. Ultimately, the hot Jupiter planets head in toward their stars, a relatively rare process still poorly understood.

The new study answers questions about the end of the hot Jupiters' travels, revealing what put the brakes on their migration. Previously, there were a handful of theories explaining how this might occur. One theory proposed that the star's magnetic field prevented the planets from going any farther. When a star is young, a planet-forming disk of material surrounds it. The material falls into the star -- a process astronomers call accretion -- but when it hits the magnetic bubble around it, called the magnetosphere, the material travels up and around the bubble, landing on the star from the top and bottom. This bubble could be halting migrating planets, so the theory went.

Another theory held that the planets stopped marching forward when they hit the end of the dusty portion of the planet-forming disk.

"This theory basically said that the dust road a planet travels on ends before the planet falls all the way into the star," said co-author Chris Bilinski of the University of Arizona, Tucson. "A gap forms between the star and the inner edge of its dusty disk where the planets are thought to stop their migration."

And yet a third theory, the one the researchers found to be correct, proposed that a migrating planet stops once the star's tidal forces have completed their job of circularizing its orbit.

To test these and other scenarios, the scientists looked at 126 confirmed planets and more than 2,300 candidates. The majority of the candidates and some of the known planets were identified via NASA's Kepler mission. Kepler has found planets of all sizes and types, including rocky ones that orbit where temperatures are warm enough for liquid water.

The scientists looked at how the planets' distance from their stars varied depending on the mass of the star. It turns out that the various theories explaining what stops migrating planets differ in their predictions of how the mass of a star affects the orbit of the planet. The "tidal forces" theory predicted that the hot Jupiters of more massive stars would orbit farther out, on average.

The survey results matched the "tidal forces" theory and even showed more of a correlation between massive stars and farther-out orbits than predicted.

This may be the end of the road for the mystery of what halts migrating planets, but the journey itself still poses many questions. As gas giants voyage inward, it is thought that they sometimes kick smaller, rocky planets out of the way, and with them any chance of life evolving. Lucky for us, our Jupiter did not voyage toward the sun, and our Earth was left in peace. More studies like this one will help explain these and other secrets of planetary migration.

The technical paper is online at http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/769/2/86/ .

NASA Ames manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with JPL at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech manages time allocation on the Keck telescope for NASA. JPL manages NASA's Exoplanet Exploration program office. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

More information about the Kepler mission is at http://www.nasa.gov/kepler .

More information about exoplanets and NASA's planet-finding program is at http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov .

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

Michele Johnson 650-604-4789
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
michele.johnson@nasa.gov

- end -
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 06/07/2013 11:49 AM
There will be a Google+ hangout next Tuesday, June 11, 12:00 PM PDT SETI Talk - The Once and Future Kepler:

https://plus.google.com/events/ci4g3qqoljo7bk0jb9um7vhl4b4

Also hearing via @ProfAbelMendez on Twitter that

"Great! 503 new exoplanet candidates were added to @NASAKepler. There are now 3216 KOIs"

... but I didn't think the latest 1,924 KOI had yet been dispositioned
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jg on 06/07/2013 08:01 PM
I was trying to figure the odds of Kepler recovery. 

So it does not look good for Kepler. 

I'm highly constrained with respect to what I can say (vs. what I'd really like to say about those wheels)...

Read this:
http://www.nature.com/news/the-wheels-come-off-kepler-1.13032


I talked with a friend on the science team.  As the article says, there is little hope of recovery; all attempts to revive those wheels in the past have failed.

Jim
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: sanman on 06/11/2013 09:38 PM
Help is on the way!


http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=32029.msg1063007#msg1063007


Please help make sure this happens!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: MarsMethanogen on 07/10/2013 09:29 PM
A friend sent me this link, but in my opinion, the title line is completely misleading, as the only reference in the article is "engineers are working on a long-distance repair plan and testing it on a spacecraft test bed at the Ball Aerospace facility in Boulder, Colo.", and then nothing more is said other than to review Kepler's accomplishments and discoveries.  Does anyone have any meat to this statement?

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9240630/NASA_preps_long_distance_rescue_plan_for_crippled_Kepler_telescope

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: grondilu on 07/20/2013 12:09 AM
A friend sent me this link, but in my opinion, the title line is completely misleading, as the only reference in the article is "engineers are working on a long-distance repair plan and testing it on a spacecraft test bed at the Ball Aerospace facility in Boulder, Colo.", and then nothing more is said other than to review Kepler's accomplishments and discoveries.  Does anyone have any meat to this statement?

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9240630/NASA_preps_long_distance_rescue_plan_for_crippled_Kepler_telescope

An other article from io9 (http://io9.com/nasa-will-attempt-to-rescue-the-planet-hunting-kepler-t-841750685) pointed me to this CNN article:

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/18/us/nasa-kepler/index.html

Nowhere is suggested a launch to intervene on the telescope in situ, if that's what the title made you imagine.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Targeteer on 07/25/2013 12:09 PM
initial results of recovery efforts...

Kepler Mission Manager Update: Initial Recovery Tests

http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=44405

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 07/25/2013 05:18 PM
More on the attempts at recovery

http://www.space.com/22104-nasa-kepler-exoplanet-spacecraft-recovery.html

Not completely good news but better than no science data at all!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 08/02/2013 08:52 AM
274 new candidates have been added to the catalogue:

"July 31, 2013: One new planet has been added, GJ 328 b, and Kepler has also updated several KOI dispositions for objects in the Q1-Q12 and Cumulative tables. This brings the archive's confirmed planet count to 882, and the confirmed and candidates count to 3,548. For an explanation of the archive's criteria for including planets, see our Exoplanet Criteria page."

See http://exoplanetarchive.ipac.caltech.edu/

16 of these 274 new candidates are in the habitable zone, bringing the total to 56 candidate and confirmed HZ planets. Nothing particularly startling (but the list includes some really rather Earth-like ones): radii range from 1.3x Earth to 3.7x Earth + 1 gas giant, and periods ranging from 101 days to 394 days.

How quickly we become blasé:-)

Edit: the lower end of the size range for the 274 new candidates is interesting:
- 5 candidates Mars-sized (0.64x Earth) or smaller
- 30 between 0.65x and 1.0x Earth
- 28 between 1.0x and 1.25x Earth
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Targeteer on 08/03/2013 12:42 AM
another recovery update

http://www.nasa.gov/content/kepler-mission-manager-update-pointing-test/#.UfxRblOsbps



The team has continued exploratory recovery testing of Reaction Wheel 4 (RW4). On Thursday, July 25, 2013, the wheel spun in both directions in response to commands.

While both RW4 and RW2 have spun bi-directionally, friction levels remain higher than would be considered good for an operational wheel. However, it will be important to characterize the stability of the friction over time. A constant friction level may be correctable in the spacecraft’s attitude control system, whereas a variable friction level will likely render the wheels unusable.

Reaction wheel
High-precision pointing of the Kepler spacecraft is controlled by reaction wheels, which are small electric motors mounted on the spacecraft that control the three axes of motion: up/down, forward/back and left/right.
Image Credit:
Ball Aerospace

With the demonstration that both wheels will still move, and the measurement of their friction levels, the functional testing of the reaction wheels is now complete.  The next step will be a system-level performance test to see if the wheels can adequately control spacecraft pointing.

The team is preparing for the next test using RW2. Friction levels on RW4, the wheel that failed in May, are higher and no additional testing is planned at this time. The pointing test involves determining the performance of the wheel as part of the spacecraft system. The test will be conducted in three stages.

The first stage of the pointing test will determine if the spacecraft can sustain coarse-point mode using RW1, 2 and 3. Coarse-point mode is regularly used during normal operations, but has insufficient pointing accuracy to deliver the high-precision photometry necessary for exoplanet detection. During coarse-point the star trackers measure the pointing accuracy of the spacecraft. When using wheels to control the spacecraft, pointing is typically controlled to within an arcsecond, with a fault declared if the pointing error exceeds a quarter of a degree. This degree of pointing accuracy would be equivalent to keeping an imaginary Kepler telescope pointed at a theatre-size movie screen in New York City's Central Park from San Francisco.

The Kepler spacecraft
The spacecraft provides the power, pointing and telemetry for the photometer. Other than the four reaction wheels used to maintain the precision pointing and an ejectable cover, there are no other moving or deployable parts on the spacecraft.
Image Credit:
NASA Ames/Ball Aerospace

In the first stage, testing will demonstrate whether or not operation with RW2 can keep the spacecraft from entering safe mode. A safe mode is a self-protective measure that the spacecraft takes when an unexpected event occurs, such as elevated friction levels in the wheels.

In the second stage, testing will investigate RW2's ability to help control the spacecraft pointing with enough accuracy to transmit science data to the ground using NASA's Deep Space Network. If RW2 can sustain coarse-point in stage 1, the second stage of the test will be to point the high-gain antenna to Earth and downlink the data currently stored aboard. This requires that the pointing be controlled more tightly than simply avoiding safe mode, yet does not require the very fine control needed to return to science data collection.

The final stage of the test will determine if RW2 can achieve and maintain fine-point, the operating mode for collecting science data. During fine-point the fine-guidance sensors measure the spacecraft pointing. When using wheels to control the spacecraft, pointing is controlled to within a few milliarcseconds. Using our imaginary Kepler telescope example, this degree of pointing accuracy would be equivalent to pointing at a soccer ball in New York City's Central Park from San Francisco.

The team anticipates beginning the pointing performance testing on Thursday, August 8, 2013 and will continue into the following week if all goes well. A determination of whether Kepler can return to exoplanet data collection is expected a couple weeks after these pointing tests are complete.

As engineers explore recovery of the spacecraft, scientists continue to analyze the existing data. Earlier this week the team delivered their findings for 1,236 new Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs) to the NASA Exoplanet Archive. The new KOIs were found by searching the observational data from Quarters 1 to Quarter 12. Of the 1,236 new KOIs, 274 were judged to be planet candidates, while many others were determined to be false positives. These newly announced Kepler planet candidates bring the current count to 3,548. Some of these new planet candidates are small and some reside in the habitable zone of their stars, but much work remains to be done to verify these results.

Also announced this week is the Kepler Science Conference II Nov. 4-8, 2013 at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Registration is now open.

Regards,
Roger
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 08/14/2013 07:48 PM
NASA will host a news teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 15, to discuss the status of the agency's Kepler Space Telescope.

Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone, the region around a star in which the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might be suitable for liquid water. Launched in 2009, Kepler has discovered planets and planet candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances and helped scientists better understand our place in the galaxy.

The briefing participants are:

-- Paul Hertz, astrophysics director, NASA Headquarters
-- William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator, NASA's Ames Research Center
-- Charles Sobeck, deputy project manager, NASA's Ames Research Center

For dial-in information, journalists should email their name, affiliation and telephone number to J.D. Harrington at j.d.harrington@nasa.gov by 1 p.m. Thursday. Media representatives and the public also may ask questions via Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 08/14/2013 08:23 PM
I'm hoping for some good news. 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Targeteer on 08/15/2013 06:22 PM
Sadly no... :(

NASA Ends Attempts to Fully Recover Kepler Spacecraft, Potential New Missions Considered   
 
   
 
Following months of analysis and testing, the Kepler Space Telescope team is ending its attempts to restore the spacecraft to full working order, and now is considering what new science research it can carry out in its current condition.

Two of Kepler's four gyroscope-like reaction wheels, which are used to precisely point the spacecraft, have failed. The first was lost in July 2012, and the second in May. Engineers' efforts to restore at least one of the wheels have been unsuccessful.

Kepler completed its prime mission in November 2012 and began its four-year extended mission at that time. However, the spacecraft needs three functioning wheels to continue its search for Earth-sized exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, orbiting stars like our sun in what's known as the habitable zone -- the range of distances from a star where the surface temperature of a planet might be suitable for liquid water. As scientists analyze previously collected data, the Kepler team also is looking into whether the space telescope can conduct a different type of science program, including an exoplanet search, using the remaining two good reaction wheels and thrusters.

"Kepler has made extraordinary discoveries in finding exoplanets including several super-Earths in the habitable zone," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Knowing that Kepler has successfully collected all the data from its prime mission, I am confident that more amazing discoveries are on the horizon."

On Aug. 8, engineers conducted a system-level performance test to evaluate Kepler's current capabilities. They determined wheel 2, which failed last year, can no longer provide the precision pointing necessary for science data collection. The spacecraft was returned to its point rest state, which is a stable configuration where Kepler uses thrusters to control its pointing with minimal fuel use.

"At the beginning of our mission, no one knew if Earth-size planets were abundant in the galaxy. If they were rare, we might be alone," said William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "Now at the completion of Kepler observations, the data holds the answer to the question that inspired the mission: Are Earths in the habitable zone of stars like our sun common or rare?

An engineering study will be conducted on the modifications required to manage science operations with the spacecraft using a combination of its remaining two good reaction wheels and thrusters for spacecraft attitude control.

Informed by contributions from the broader science community in response to the call for scientific white papers announced Aug. 2, the Kepler project team will perform a study to identify possible science opportunities for a two-wheel Kepler mission.

Depending on the outcome of these studies, which are expected to be completed later this year, NASA will assess the scientific priority of a two-wheel Kepler mission. Such an assessment may include prioritization relative to other NASA astrophysics missions competing for operational funding at the NASA Senior Review board early next year.

From the data collected in the first half of its mission, Kepler has confirmed 135 exoplanets and identified over 3,500 candidates. The team continues to analyze all four years of collected data, expecting hundreds, if not thousands, of new discoveries including the long-awaited Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars. Though the spacecraft will no longer operate with its unparalleled precision pointing, scientists expect Kepler’s most interesting discoveries are still to come.

Meanwhile, preparations are underway for hosting the second Kepler Science Conference Nov. 4-8, at NASA's Ames Research Center. This will be an opportunity to share not only the investigations of the Kepler project team, but also those of the wider science community using publicly accessible data from Kepler. Registration is now open. For more information about Kepler's upcoming science conference, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/13kz012

For more information about NASA's call for two-wheel science proposals, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/1a1UzaC

For more information about NASA's Kepler spacecraft, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jgoldader on 08/15/2013 09:21 PM
From the Call for White Papers, Kepler's pointing limit is 45 degrees from the Sun.  That allows it to see approximately to 0.7 AU, since that's the radius of Venus' orbit, and Venus gets to a max of about 45 degrees elongation.

I'd love to see Kepler look for asteroids in the area between the orbits of Earth and Venus.  Objects in that region would hit us from the sunward side and are very difficult to detect from Earth-based telescopes.  A very small number of objects with orbits in that region have been seen, there must be more.  Sentinel, proposed by the B-612 Foundation, would likely do a better job, but a bird in orbit is worth two in PowerPoints.

Jeff
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 08/17/2013 05:16 AM
Last night one of the Kepler scientists (Dr. Jason Steffen) gave a lecture at the Clark Planetarium, and the Hansen Dome was packed.  I was there.  He gave a very, very good presentation on the mission.  Highlights:

- Kepler viewed an area of 150,000 stars in the area of Lyra and Cygnus.  That area was specifically picked; they wanted enough stars to get a good sample but too many stars would make it difficult to pick out planets.

- The most common planets and planet candidates are between the sizes of earth and Neptune, or Neptune-sized.  There are some smaller than earth, some Jupiter/Saturn sized, and some bigger than Jupiter. 

- There is no solar system analog for most of the planets Kepler has found.  (Are WE and our solar system the oddballs in the universe?)

- Kepler project less than halfway through analyzing all data.  8 quarters done, 8 to go.

- Most planet candidates are expected to be the "real deal"

- Jupiter sized planets cause the star to dip in brightness by 1/1000 of 1%.  Earth sized planets: 1/100000

- There are several planets/planet candidates close to earth size AND close to earth's temperature range (270 K).  Others in the graph that he showed were within the potential range where water could be liquid.

- Smallest planet found about size of moon. Largest planet found over 15x Jupiter mass.

- Kepler can detect ring systems but the work on that had been on the "back burner".  Exomoon detection in work also. (that was his answer to me when I posed the question about ring detection in the Q&A).

I'm glad I went to this. 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 08/17/2013 07:44 AM
- Kepler viewed an area of 150,000 stars in the area of Lyra and Cygnus.  That area was specifically picked; they wanted enough stars to get a good sample but too many stars would make it difficult to pick out planets.

They also wanted to minimise bright stars in the field as these produce charge-bleed effects that affect many stars on the same CCD row/column.

Sadly, this makes it harder to do ground based follow-up as most of the field are dim and distant . . .

Quote
- There is no solar system analog for most of the planets Kepler has found.  (Are WE and our solar system the oddballs in the universe?)

Not clear if this is a selection effect yet. 

Because only 8 quarters of data have been analysed, this limits the max period for the required 3 transits to somewhat less than a year - it has been striking to watch how the mass/period scatter chart has evolved: each release has lower mass and higher period candidates.

Quote
- Most planet candidates are expected to be the "real deal"

Indeed! The false-positive rate for single candidate systems is expected to be ~5% after eliminating the obvious (EBs etc) and is much lower if there are multiple candidates.

Quote
- There are several planets/planet candidates close to earth size AND close to earth's temperature range (270 K).  Others in the graph that he showed were within the potential range where water could be liquid.

These are now being tracked by the Habitable Exoplanets Catalogue at Arecibo.

See:
http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog and http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog/stats

BTW, for those interested in exoplanets, I recommend following @ProfAbelMendez

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: LouScheffer on 08/19/2013 06:01 PM
Good article on efforts (unsuccessful) to revive Kepler:

http://news.sciencemag.org/space/2013/08/how-nasa-tried-save-its-prime-planet-spotter
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 10/31/2013 06:36 PM

MEDIA ADVISORY M13-168

 


NASA Hosts Media Briefing To Discuss Kepler Results

 






NASA will video stream a news briefing at 10:15 a.m. PST (1:15 p.m. EST) Monday, Nov. 4, to announce new results from the agency's Kepler mission. The briefing, taking place during the Kepler Science Conference, will be in building 152 at NASA Research Park in Moffett Field, Calif.

With its 2009 launch, Kepler became the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-sized planets in or near the habitable zone -- the region around a star in which orbiting planets may have surface temperatures that would sustain liquid water. In its last four years of exploration, the Kepler space telescope has detected planets and planet candidates, varying widely in size and orbital distances, helping us better understand our place in the universe.

The briefing participants are:

-- William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator, Ames
-- Jason Rowe, research scientist, SETI Institute, Mountain View, Calif.
-- Erik Petigura, graduate student, University of California, Berkeley, Calif.
-- William Chaplin, professor for Astrophysics, University of Birmingham, UK

Media may attend in person or by teleconference. To register or obtain dial-in information, contact Michele Johnson at 650-604-6982 or michele.johnson@nasa.gov by 8 a.m. PST Monday.

Media and the public may submit questions via Twitter using  #AskNASA.

The event will be streamed live at:

http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/kepler

For more information about the Kepler mission and to view the digital press kit, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 10/31/2013 07:44 PM
I've now got another reason to look forward to next week besides the Soyuz launch on my birthday!  I see a SETI scientist is one of the presenters. Could it be.....an earth like planet just got found?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 10/31/2013 07:59 PM
Could it be.....an earth like planet just got found?

Might be something related to this: http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=1459&view=findpost&p=204213

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 11/01/2013 10:29 AM
Jason Rowe is also associated with NASA Ames so the SETI institute might be a red herring.  However, he is also chairing a session on the Q1 to Q12 planet candidate catalogue. 

This has about ~36 potentially habitable candidates in it, so it is possible some of these have been confirmed (possibly by astroseismology - Bill Chaplin's speciality, I believe).  Petigura is chairing a session on the frequency of planet occurence which could also be related.

However, the briefing could be about all sorts of other things (e.g. Kepler-78b as linked above, KOI-351 which is a compact 7 planet solar system analogue, or about the radius / mass / density relationship which indicates candidates with a radius < 3x Rearth are likely to be rocky).

I do think they will be keeping something very interesting for announcement during the conference, but as for what it is likely to be, I'm looking forward to finding out:-)


--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: robertross on 11/01/2013 02:19 PM
Kepler-78b: first Earth-size planet with measured Earth-mass

10.30.2013

See full NASA News Feature: Scientists Discover the First Earth-size Rocky Planet:


Excerpt: Kepler-78b whizzes around its host star every 8.5 hours, making it a blazing inferno and not suitable for life as we know it. ..."The news arrived in grand style with the message: 'Kepler-10b has a baby brother,'" said Natalie Batalha, Kepler mission scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. Batalha led the team that discovered Kepler-10b, a larger but also rocky planet identified by the Kepler spacecraft. "The message expresses the joy of knowing that Kepler's family of exoplanets is growing," Batalha reflects. "It also speaks of progress. The Doppler teams are attaining higher precision, measuring masses of smaller planets at each turn...."

...Two independent research teams ... used ground-based telescopes to confirm and characterize Kepler-78b. To determine the planet's mass, the teams employed the radial velocity method to measure how much the gravitation tug of an orbiting planet causes its star to wobble. Kepler, on the other hand, determines the size or radius of a planet by the amount of starlight blocked when it passes in front of its host star.

...Kepler-78b is the first to have both a measured mass and size. With both quantities known [1.2 times the size of Earth and 1.7 times more massive], scientists can calculate a density ... that is the same as Earth's ... primarily of rock and iron.

...One team led by Andrew Howard from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, made follow-up observations using the W. M. Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii. [other members of Howard’s team are Roberto Sanchis-Ojeda (MIT), who analyzed the transit data taken by the Kepler spacecraft to find the planet and calculate its size, Dr. Geoffrey Marcy (University of California, Berkeley), Dr. John Johnson (Harvard), Dr. Debra Fischer (Yale), Benjamin Fulton and Evan Sinukoff (UHM graduate students), and Dr. Jonathan Fortney (University of California, Santa Cruz).]

The other team led by Francesco Pepe from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, did their ground-base work at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands. More information on their research can be found here.

...This result will be one of many discussed next week at the second Kepler science conference Nov. 4-8 at Ames....


http://kepler.nasa.gov/news/nasakeplernews/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=308
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 11/04/2013 05:49 PM
833 new planet candidates, 10 potentially habitable earth size planets among them!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 11/04/2013 07:14 PM
RELEASE 13-323


NASA Kepler Results Usher in a New Era of Astronomy


Scientists from around the world are gathered this week at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., for the second Kepler Science Conference, where they will discuss the latest findings resulting from the analysis of Kepler Space Telescope data.

Included in these findings is the discovery of 833 new candidate planets, which will be announced today by the Kepler team. Ten of these candidates are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's habitable zone, which is defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet may be suitable for liquid water.

At this conference two years ago, the Kepler team announced its first confirmed habitable zone planet, Kepler-22b. Since then, four more habitable zone candidates have been confirmed, including two in a single system.

New Kepler data analysis and research also show that most stars in our galaxy have at least one planet. This suggests that the majority of stars in the night sky may be home to planetary systems, perhaps some like our solar system.

"The impact of the Kepler mission results on exoplanet research and stellar astrophysics is illustrated by the attendance of nearly 400 scientists from 30 different countries at the Kepler Science Conference," said William Borucki, Kepler science principal investigator at Ames. "We gather to celebrate and expand our collective success at the opening of a new era of astronomy."

From the first three years of Kepler data, more than 3,500 potential worlds have emerged. Since the last update in January, the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler increased by 29 percent and now totals 3,538. Analysis led by Jason Rowe, research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., determined that the largest increase of 78 percent was found in the category of Earth-sized planets, based on observations conducted from May 2009 to March 2012. Rowe's findings support the observed trend that smaller planets are more common.

An independent statistical analysis of nearly all four years of Kepler data suggests that one in five stars like the sun is home to a planet up to twice the size of Earth, orbiting in a temperate environment. A research team led by Erik Petigura, doctoral candidate at University of California, Berkeley, used publicly accessible data from Kepler to derive this result.

Kepler data also fueled another field of astronomy dubbed asteroseismology -- the study of the interior of stars. Scientists examine sound waves generated by the boiling motion beneath the surface of the star. They probe the interior structure of a star just as geologists use seismic waves generated by earthquakes to probe the interior structure of Earth.

"Stars are the building blocks of the galaxy, driving its evolution and providing safe harbors for planets. To study the stars, one truly explores the galaxy and our place within it," said William Chaplin, professor for astrophysics at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. "Kepler has revolutionized asteroseismology by giving us observations of unprecedented quality, duration and continuity for thousands of stars. These are data we could only have dreamt of a few years ago."

Kepler's mission is to determine what percentage of stars like the sun harbor small planets the approximate size and temperature of Earth. For four years, the space telescope simultaneously and continuously monitored the brightness of more than 150,000 stars, recording a measurement every 30 minutes. More than a year of the collected data remains to be fully reviewed and analyzed.

Ames is responsible for the Kepler mission concept, ground system development, mission operations, and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

For more information about the second Kepler Science Conference, visit:

http://nexsci.caltech.edu/conferences/KeplerII/index.shtml

For more information about the Kepler mission and to view the digital press kit, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

-end-

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 11/04/2013 09:48 PM
This story has been widely reported already but here is the Washington Post's article on it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/kepler-space-telescope-finds-earth-size-potentially-habitable-planets-are-common/2013/11/04/49d782b4-4555-11e3-bf0c-cebf37c6f484_story.html?hpid=z1
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: HappyMartian on 11/05/2013 03:43 PM
And also CNN:

Tens of billions of planets out there are like Earth, study finds By Brad Lendon   November 5, 2013
At: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/05/tech/innovation/billions-of-planets/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: baldusi on 11/05/2013 06:09 PM
Let's round it up to billions and billions.  ;)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 11/06/2013 05:18 AM
Frank Drake gave a very good talk tonight at the Kepler science conference and I listened in at connect.arc.nasa.gov/kepler

Highlights:

- Interesting take on the Fermi paradox: he thinks that ET would find it more efficient to explore interstellar space through radio and telescopes rather than expend lots of energy trying to get craft going up to near light speed.  Thus he thinks that there wouldn't be any "alien visitors".

- The window for an alien civilization trying to find us (or us trying to find a given alien civilization) could be short indeed as our technology is getting more efficient and our signals aren't leaking out as much.  Other civilizations could follow courses similar to ours.

- Our search should be directed to the galactic bulge as there are more stars there, and F, G, K, M stars should be searched, and that the search should be done now due to the item noted above (getting more "radio silent").

- The habitable zone could be very wide indeed, if you take into account moons like Europa with a subsurface ocean, and even the possibility of microorganisms or "floaters" in the atmospheres of gas giants.  For human like forms the habitable zone would of course be more limited.

- Kepler's only able to see planets that cross the face of the star (transits) and the planets that have been seen have been pretty close to the star, as for planets further out the alignment really has to be just right, less probability of seeing transit then.  What Kepler's seen is "just the tip of the iceberg".

The conference goes on till Friday, you can also follow on Twitter with the tag #Kepler2.  I'm not there or anywhere near the Bay Area but the tag and the web link kinda made me feel like I was there.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Archibald on 11/06/2013 05:39 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-shostak/the-numbers-are-astronomi_b_4214484.html

33 billion planets in our galaxy, 150 billion galaxies in the visible sky, 5000 billion planets ?  :D  the minds boggles...
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Jeff Lerner on 11/06/2013 06:01 PM
Just curious...are Mars and Venus considered to be in the "habitable zone" of our Sun ??...i know they don't have water
today but the certainly in the case of Mars it seems that water did appear on the surface at one time....

I'm asking because the number of billion of earth like planets being estimated now might lead people to think every one of
those planets are real Earth like, water, plants, etc...when  point fact how many might be like Mars or Venus...about the
same size as Earth, rocky, but quite dead..
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: RonM on 11/06/2013 06:09 PM
Just curious...are Mars and Venus considered to be in the "habitable zone" of our Sun ??...i know they don't have water
today but the certainly in the case of Mars it seems that water did appear on the surface at one time....

That depends on which study you look at.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitable_zone#Solar_System_estimates (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitable_zone#Solar_System_estimates)

Venus is at the innermost edge at best. It's basically too close to the Sun. Some studies include Mars and even Ceres. That's not to say Ceres would ever be habitual, but an Earth-like planet there could be.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: aquanaut99 on 11/06/2013 06:19 PM
Frank Drake gave a very good talk tonight at the Kepler science conference and I listened in at connect.arc.nasa.gov/kepler

Highlights:

- Interesting take on the Fermi paradox: he thinks that ET would find it more efficient to explore interstellar space through radio and telescopes rather than expend lots of energy trying to get craft going up to near light speed.  Thus he thinks that there wouldn't be any "alien visitors".

- The window for an alien civilization trying to find us (or us trying to find a given alien civilization) could be short indeed as our technology is getting more efficient and our signals aren't leaking out as much.  Other civilizations could follow courses similar to ours.

There are probably millions (I'm not saying billions) of planets that might be habitable by humans in our galaxy alone. And life, at least as we concieve it, may be abundant on many of them.

Still, that doesn't mean that we may hear from E.T. soon. Life may be plentiful, complex life may even be fairly abundant, but intelligent life may be very rare. And even intelligent life does not mean that a civilization, such as we can concieve it, will arise. Or, even if there is actually an alien civilization, that it would necessarily share our desire to explore the universe.

Unfortunately, we have only one known example of a civilization: Our own. And here, the numbers aren't kind. Consider: There are probably 10 million species on our planet right now. Add to that the fact that more than 99% of all species that ever existed on our planet have already gone extinct; it means that the statistical chance of intelligent life arising may be somewhare around 1:1 billion (I'm leaving a little benefit of doubt here for some of the other highly evolved terrestrial species that may potentially be counted as "intelligent" as well, some of the Big Apes, and possibly cetaceans). But the chance of actually arising is probably closer to 1:10 billion. And that civilization might only be detectable by radio for a few hundred years, before either going extinct or rising above radio or even the desire to explore...
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: baldusi on 11/06/2013 07:53 PM
I think Venus is in the uncertainty zone. The closeness to the star depend also on the atmospheric albedo. And please remember that for each star it might be different (different combination of spectrum and energy throughput). Also, the case for moons of gas giants is different and might be expanded further out (I can't find the paper). And we're talking about habitability for humans. Ammonia or methane based forms (if possible at all) have different requirements.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: StephenB on 11/07/2013 04:52 PM
Just curious...are Mars and Venus considered to be in the "habitable zone" of our Sun??

Mars yes Venus no, I thought. The earth is close to the inner edge of the habitable zone.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 11/08/2013 10:27 AM
Mars yes Venus no, I thought. The earth is close to the inner edge of the habitable zone.

Slightly depends on the particular definition used, but usually as stated above, Mars yes; Venus no.

See http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog for a decent visualisation of the top 12 habitable exoplanets.

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: SF Doug on 11/11/2013 05:57 PM
Here is the full PNAS article, "Prevalence of Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars"

Erik A. Petigura, Andrew W. Howard and Geoffrey W. Marcy
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: grondilu on 11/29/2013 10:40 AM
New hope.

« You may have thought that NASA's Kepler spacecraft was finished. Well, think again. A repurposed Kepler Space telescope may soon start searching the sky again. »

(http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/k2_explained_25nov_story_0.jpg?itok=U1wa7Cs9)

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler/a-sunny-outlook-for-nasa-keplers-second-light/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 11/29/2013 07:59 PM
For a detailed description of the proposed K2 mission, check out the first two talks from the the recent Kepler conference: http://nexsci.caltech.edu/conferences/KeplerII/agenda.shtml

While it's unfortunate that they can't get any more time on the original field, it really sounds like they have a solid plan to do some very interesting science. Of course, they are the ones who have to sell this plan to HQ, so they aren't neutral party...

Lots of other good stuff the rest of the talks too. Aside from many recent Kepler results, the Nov 6 session has detailed descriptions of future exoplanet missions. Having heard the details, I'm a lot more excited about TESS than I was when the selection was announced.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: AJA on 11/30/2013 01:50 AM
For a detailed description of the proposed K2 mission, check out the first two talks from the the recent Kepler conference: http://nexsci.caltech.edu/conferences/KeplerII/agenda.shtml (http://nexsci.caltech.edu/conferences/KeplerII/agenda.shtml)


Thanks!


I grabbed a couple of screenshots from Charlie Sobeck's talk detailing the attitude issues. Can somebody explain the second slide and the graphs? Because I sure as hell am confused.


Shouldn't the only thing that determines the solar pressure torque about the boresight, be the angle between the solar/radius vector and the body normal at the "ridge"? Why does the attitude of the spacecraft with respect to the ecliptic matter at all?


In other words,
Consider a circular orbit, and the telescope pointing in the -ve velocity direction, with arrays pointed at the sun, and oriented such that the orbital plane itself is a plane of symmetry for the scope, passing through the its "ridge". Now rotate it about the -ve velocity vector (along the boresight) by |20 degrees|.
Consider a second situation, where the telescope's pointing normal to the orbital plane, but the arrays still face the sun, and the plane containing the radius vector and the normal to the orbital plane functions as a plane of symmetry for the scope, passing through its "ridge". Now rotate it about the boresight by the same |20 degrees|.


Shouldn't the magnitude of the solar torque about the boresight be exactly the same in both cases?


Note: The scales of the two graphs are different. The first one has Y axis as angle (arcsec) vs time (hours), and the second graph has a Y axis (degrees) vs time (days) [not shown, but mentioned verbally in the talk]. The second one corresponds to a pointing direction along the negative velocity vector (to keep the Earth out of the FOV), in the ecliptic, and the first one's for the original Kepler FOV (out of the ecliptic).


I assume the four different curves are for different roll rates measured about the X axis - at different times in the orbit. (Which I don't get either.)


Numbers wise, it looks like they were getting a roll (about the boresight) of ~ (2 x 105) arcseconds/day = 0.05556 deg/day in the original Kepler attitude. The corresponding roll rate for in-ecliptic pointing seems to range from ~(0.65 deg - 0.1 deg)/4 days = 0.1375 deg/day (Max, outermost curves) to ~(0.17 deg-0.03 deg)/4 days = 0.035 deg/day (Min, innermost curves)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: AJA on 11/30/2013 02:27 AM
Assuming a 'normal' attitude (pun intended. i.e. pointing at right angles to the orbital plane, or.. any non-zero angle actually), without solar pressure torque, Kepler wouldn't roll about its boresight, and the attitude would be fixed in inertial space (discounting the adjustments made in the other planes for pointing).


However, as Kepler moves in its orbit, the hemisphere of the scope that's illuminated, rotates about the ridge line. From the NASA illustration in Grondilu's post, this would produce a torque that tends to keep the ridge always facing the sun (i.e. opposing the telescope's rotation, as seen from the sun). While this torque is nowhere near strong enough to keep the same hemisphere of Kepler always facing the sun (a la Light and Dark side of the Moon, as viewed from Earth) - it's still an unbalanced torque (whose magnitude varies in proportion with the angle between body normal at ridge and solar radius vector - as evidenced by the non-linearity of the first graph), and this rotates the telescope ( a no-no for observations).


This still doesn't explain the multiple curves in the second graph though. If the ridge lies in the orbital plane, then, regardless of the hemisphere of the telescope that's illuminated - it's still illuminated symmetrically around the ridge.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: the_roche_lobe on 11/30/2013 08:52 PM
This is fantastic news and I hope they get some great science out of it.

BUT

2 wheels have failed already. No reason to think the remaining ones are 'magic wheels' or anything. One more and its all over.

So lets get a move along!

P
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: AJA on 11/30/2013 09:11 PM
2 wheels have failed already. No reason to think the remaining ones are 'magic wheels' or anything. One more and its all over.


You should watch the start of Steve Howell's talk.  :D
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chris Bergin on 12/06/2013 03:52 PM
Aliens you say! Probably a good idea for another thread, so long as it doesn't turn into "And they've been here and abducted my uncle". ;)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: edlassoto on 12/06/2013 04:58 PM
Here is a new article on Kepler, Webb and solar occlusion.

http://news.yahoo.com/scientists-congress-technology-alien-life-110944636.html (http://news.yahoo.com/scientists-congress-technology-alien-life-110944636.html)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 02/04/2014 07:09 PM

February 4, 2014
RELEASE 14-041


Kepler Finds a Very Wobbly Planet
 

Imagine living on a planet with seasons so erratic you would hardly know whether to wear Bermuda shorts or a heavy overcoat. That is the situation on a weird, wobbly world found by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope.

The planet, designated Kepler-413b, precesses, or wobbles, wildly on its spin axis, much like a child's top. The tilt of the planet's spin axis can vary by as much as 30 degrees over 11 years, leading to rapid and erratic changes in seasons. In contrast, Earth's rotational precession is 23.5 degrees over 26,000 years. Researchers are amazed that this far-off planet is precessing on a human timescale.

Kepler 413-b is located 2,300 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. It circles a close pair of orange and red dwarf stars every 66 days. The planet's orbit around the binary stars appears to wobble, too, because the plane of its orbit is tilted 2.5 degrees with respect to the plane of the star pair's orbit. As seen from Earth, the wobbling orbit moves up and down continuously.

Kepler finds planets by noticing the dimming of a star or stars when a planet transits, or travels in front of them. Normally, planets transit like clockwork. Astronomers using Kepler discovered the wobbling when they found an unusual pattern of transiting for Kepler-413b.

"Looking at the Kepler data over the course of 1,500 days, we saw three transits in the first 180 days -- one transit every 66 days -- then we had 800 days with no transits at all. After that, we saw five more transits in a row," said Veselin Kostov, the principal investigator on the observation. Kostov is affiliated with the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. The next transit visible from Earth's point of view is not predicted to occur until 2020. This is because the orbit moves up and down, a result of the wobbling, in such a great degree that it sometimes does not transit the stars as viewed from Earth.

Astronomers are still trying to explain why this planet is out of alignment with its stars. There could be other planetary bodies in the system that tilted the orbit. Or, it could be that a third star nearby that is a visual companion may actually be gravitationally bound to the system and exerting an influence.

"Presumably there are planets out there like this one that we're not seeing because we're in the unfavorable period," said Peter McCullough, a team member with the Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University. "And that's one of the things that Veselin is researching: Is there a silent majority of things that we're not seeing?"

Even with its changing seasons, Kepler-413b is too warm for life as we know it. Because it orbits so close to the stars, its temperatures are too high for liquid water to exist, making it inhabitable. It also is a super Neptune -- a giant gas planet with a mass about 65 times that of Earth -- so there is no surface on which to stand.

NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., is responsible for the Kepler mission concept, ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

For images and more information about Kepler-413b, visit:

http://hubblesite.org/news/2014/12

For more information about the Kepler space telescope, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Targeteer on 02/07/2014 03:06 PM
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24857-nasas-revived-exoplanethunter-sees-its-first-world.html#.UvRTq_vTr6M

NASA's revived exoplanet-hunter sees its first world

It's alive! After suffering a critical injury last year, NASA's Kepler space telescope has just observed an exoplanet for the first time in months. The Jupiter-sized world is not a new discovery – it was found by another telescope – but spotting it again with Kepler is solid evidence that, following a few modifications, the famed planet-hunter is ready to get back to work.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Targeteer on 02/09/2014 10:30 PM
Facebook post

Kepler Mission
Lots of interest in K2. We received 126 observing proposals containing 110,000 potential targets for our first science campaign starting in March!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 02/10/2014 09:58 AM
Quote
The Kepler Team will get this year's top honors: the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy. In its search for alien worlds, the Kepler space telescope "has revolutionized exoplanet science and stellar astrophysics." Kepler data has allowed scientists detect more than 3,500 planet candidates outside of our solar system. Though the spacecraft, which launched in 2009, is now hobbled after a mechanical failure in May, NASA officials are weighing a new modified mission for Kepler.

http://www.space.com/24590-national-space-club-award-winners.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 02/15/2014 01:58 AM
According to Dr. Abel Mendez, Kepler has found 7 earth size (and 1 subterran) planet candidates in the habitable zone! 

http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog - on the main page and on the periodic table of exoplanets found deeper into the site.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 02/15/2014 09:39 AM
More details of them are in the 2nd table here: http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog/data

And a summary:

KOIKIDClassPeriodRadiusMassTs (K)ESI
5123.015091808G288.91.091.282990.93
5927.0111654039G436.41.241.832810.91
3284.016497146K 35.20.930.813050.90
5210.015942112G126.01.241.833210.81
5545.018570210G541.11.051.152410.72
5387.017416016K297.81.251.871960.60
0571.058120608K129.91.021.062140.57

BTW, these will be very hard to confirm, requiring a radial velocity precision of around ~10cm/s to ~30cm/s depending on stellar and planetary mass.  While this is the target for ESPRESSO at the VLT, it can't see the Kepler field.

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 02/21/2014 06:20 PM
Just in:

http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/nasa-hosts-media-teleconference-to-announce-latest-kepler-discoveries/

News teleconference at 1 pm Eastern next Wednesday (2/26).  One of the participants is a research scientist at the SETI Institute.  Looking forward to this!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 02/21/2014 07:50 PM
One of the participants is a research scientist at the SETI Institute.  Looking forward to this!
Before people get too excited, that's just his institutional affiliation, this does not mean there's anything SETI related beyond the obvious connection to exo-planets. Dr Rowe is a member of the Kepler science office (http://www.seti.org/users/jason-rowe).
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 02/21/2014 09:26 PM
Thanks for the link and info.  I get what you're saying, but I'm hoping they'll have another habitable zone discovery or two to announce, even if not I'm still looking forward to this announcement as I find exoplanets fascinating.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Robotbeat on 02/21/2014 10:24 PM
Thanks for the link and info.  I get what you're saying, but I'm hoping they'll have another habitable zone discovery or two to announce, even if not I'm still looking forward to this announcement as I find exoplanets fascinating.
One of the many folk working on Kepler, Dr. Steve Kawaler, is giving a talk soon at my University on the search for extraterrestrial life. If any of you have burning questions regarding the topic (i.e. exoplanet related), let me know and I should have no problem asking him. I may go out to eat with him later.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: scienceguy on 02/22/2014 02:24 AM
Thanks for the link and info.  I get what you're saying, but I'm hoping they'll have another habitable zone discovery or two to announce, even if not I'm still looking forward to this announcement as I find exoplanets fascinating.
One of the many folk working on Kepler, Dr. Steve Kawaler, is giving a talk soon at my University on the search for extraterrestrial life. If any of you have burning questions regarding the topic (i.e. exoplanet related), let me know and I should have no problem asking him. I may go out to eat with him later.

Do they know the percentage of Earth-mass planets in 1 AU orbits around G-type stars?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 02/22/2014 09:27 AM
As a new batch of KOI has recently been released (bringing the numbers up beyond 5,900), I suspect the briefing will be about the radius / period distribution. 

So I expect an update on "eta-Earth", particularly as all 4 briefing participants are co-authors of papers in this area e.g. http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.4195 (http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.4195).  I don't expect a lot of new mass (and hence density) data as I don't think there's been enough time for significant new RV follow-up since the last briefing (though the list of "protected targets" for HARPS-N is interesting http://www.tng.iac.es/instruments/harps/data/Kepler_GTO_Targets_aot29.txt (http://www.tng.iac.es/instruments/harps/data/Kepler_GTO_Targets_aot29.txt) and includes some I've been involved in :) ).

Given the KOI list now includes 7 candidates with radii between 0.9 and 1.25x that of Earth around G/K stars (see my post above), there might also be some discussion of the percentage of Earth-radius (not mass) planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars.

EDIT: I should say I may be completely wrong and it may be more density results instead, though my bet is still on the overall radius / period distribution.


--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 02/26/2014 01:56 PM
Interesting Tweet from @ProfAbelMendez:

"Yay! RT @PlanetaryHabLab: NEXT WEEK: New results will be presented in the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog"

Suggest there might be some new confirmations in today's press conference.

EDIT: there are 715 new confirmations!  Using new confirmation method (multiplicity)
EDIT2: added the two science papers.
EDIT3: boy was I wrong in my previous post :-)

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 02/26/2014 06:49 PM
February 26, 2014
RELEASE 14-059


NASA's Kepler Mission Announces a Planet Bonanza, 715 New Worlds


NASA's Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.

Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system.

"The Kepler team continues to amaze and excite us with their planet hunting results," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "That these new planets and solar systems look somewhat like our own, portends a great future when we have the James Webb Space Telescope in space to characterize the new worlds.”

Since the discovery of the first planets outside our solar system roughly two decades ago, verification has been a laborious planet-by-planet process. Now, scientists have a statistical technique that can be applied to many planets at once when they are found in systems that harbor more than one planet around the same star.

To verify this bounty of planets, a research team co-led by Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., analyzed stars with more than one potential planet, all of which were detected in the first two years of Kepler's observations -- May 2009 to March 2011.

The research team used a technique called verification by multiplicity, which relies in part on the logic of probability. Kepler observes 150,000 stars, and has found a few thousand of those to have planet candidates. If the candidates were randomly distributed among Kepler's stars, only a handful would have more than one planet candidate. However, Kepler observed hundreds of stars that have multiple planet candidates. Through a careful study of this sample, these 715 new planets were verified.

This method can be likened to the behavior we know of lions and lionesses. In our imaginary savannah, the lions are the Kepler stars and the lionesses are the planet candidates. The lionesses would sometimes be observed grouped together whereas lions tend to roam on their own. If you see two lions it could be a lion and a lioness or it could be two lions. But if more than two large felines are gathered, then it is very likely to be a lion and his pride. Thus, through multiplicity the lioness can be reliably identified in much the same way multiple planet candidates can be found around the same star.

"Four years ago, Kepler began a string of announcements of first hundreds, then thousands, of planet candidates --but they were only candidate worlds," said Lissauer. "We've now developed a process to verify multiple planet candidates in bulk to deliver planets wholesale, and have used it to unveil a veritable bonanza of new worlds."

These multiple-planet systems are fertile grounds for studying individual planets and the configuration of planetary neighborhoods. This provides clues to planet formation.

Four of these new planets are less than 2.5 times the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's habitable zone, defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet may be suitable for life-giving liquid water.

One of these new habitable zone planets, called Kepler-296f, orbits a star half the size and 5 percent as bright as our sun. Kepler-296f is twice the size of Earth, but scientists do not know whether the planet is a gaseous world, with a thick hydrogen-helium envelope, or it is a water world surrounded by a deep ocean.

"From this study we learn planets in these multi-systems are small and their orbits are flat and circular -- resembling pancakes -- not your classical view of an atom," said Jason Rowe, research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., and co-leader of the research. "The more we explore the more we find familiar traces of ourselves amongst the stars that remind us of home."

This latest discovery brings the confirmed count of planets outside our solar system to nearly 1,700. As we continue to reach toward the stars, each discovery brings us one step closer to a more accurate understanding of our place in the galaxy.

Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission to find potentially habitable Earth-size planets. Discoveries include more than 3,600 planet candidates, of which 961 have been verified as bona-fide worlds.

The findings papers will be published March 10 in The Astrophysical Journal and are available for download at:

http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/digital-press-kit-kepler-planet-bonanza

Ames is responsible for the Kepler mission concept, ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

For more information about the Kepler space telescope, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 02/26/2014 07:23 PM
What's interesting is that most of solar systems discovered so far don't look like ours with the planets widely spaced out, instead with these the planets seem to be stacked closer together near their stars. I wonder if this could effect the chances of extraterrestrial life arising?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 02/26/2014 07:37 PM
We don't really know yet how common systems like ours are - current detection methods are biased towards larger planets and shorter period orbits. It will take longer to find systems like ours ... e.g. data from GAIA should find a bunch of "cold Jupiters"

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: baldusi on 02/26/2014 07:50 PM
What's interesting is that most of solar systems discovered so far don't look like ours with the planets widely spaced out, instead with these the planets seem to be stacked closer together near their stars. I wonder if this could effect the chances of extraterrestrial life arising?
It's called selectio bias. I don't believe Kepler could detect Earth and Mars. And Venus is difficult. Kepler mission lasted what, four years? That's 3 to 4 dips for Earth. Longer orbits simply can't be detected with this mission length.
And our dip would be small, since we are so small compared to our Sun. I don't know what's the noise level of the sensor. But have some variability on the star and Earth will be below the sample random error.
And it can only see it if the orbital planes passes right in front of the star from our point of view. So the bigger the orbital radius of the exoplanet (wrt the star diameter) the less chance that we'll se the light dip.
So, Kepler simply can see most orbital planes, can't see exoplanets on variable stars, can't see planets too small for the star and didn't lasted enough to get more data points.
The result is that it what you see is not the universe average, but only the telescope limited average. It does allows for some level of extrapolation. But in general you have to consider Kepler as good for finding what it sees, but you can't discard that there are more planets, even on those stars.
Of course other observation methods can complement and discover or discard many more planets.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 02/26/2014 08:49 PM
What's interesting is that most of solar systems discovered so far don't look like ours with the planets widely spaced out, instead with these the planets seem to be stacked closer together near their stars.
It's worth emphasizing that this latest batch of 715 was from the first two years of data, so it's very biased toward shorter periods. Once they go through all the data, a very substantial number of longer period planets should show up.


I don't believe Kepler could detect Earth
It was designed to do exactly that. Various factors have made this more difficult than expected, but it's still quite possible one or more "earth twins" will show up.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: John44 on 02/26/2014 08:59 PM
NASA Teleconference to Announce Latest Kepler Discoveries
http://www.space-multimedia.nl.eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8742
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: RonM on 02/26/2014 09:10 PM
It was a signal to noise issue. The assumption was that the sun is a typical star, but it turns out that the sun is calmer than average. That issue could have been resolved with a few more years of observation, however, Kepler didn't last long enough. No complaints, it made it past its designed time.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 02/27/2014 03:54 AM
The paper is now on arxiv http://arxiv.org/abs/1402.6534
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 02/27/2014 07:11 AM
And the other paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1402.6352
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 02/27/2014 05:01 PM
I tuned in to the conference and was stunned about the huge number of confirmations, 715 new planets.  And 4 are in the habitable zone, I believe 3 of them were "super earths". 

I tweeted a question to #asknasa about how close Kepler was to finding exomoons and was glad to have it answered.  Basically they're not sure how close they are because it's so difficult, but if there were any large earth size moons for the planets they've found so far (as close to their star as Venus is to our sun) they would have found them.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 02/27/2014 06:07 PM
All 4 are "super Earths" but really it is more likely they are "sub Neptunes" as their radii are between 1.73 and 2.33 times that of earth, so almost certainly big H/He envelope (the AP guy asked this).

I think they pointed you at HEK and David Kipping's work on exomoons didn't they?

[My own #AskNASA questions were answered on twitter later]

BTW, it turns out there is some scepticism over the "multiplicity method".  For example, see http://lostintransits.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/keplers-last-stand-verification-by-multiplicity/

I have a lot of sympathy with that: without RV confirmation to get the mass and better stellar properties, is it really that useful to be 99.8% certain there's a planet?  Kepler-296 is a good illustration of this: we don't even know which component of the binary the planets orbit.  But far better minds than mine will decide :-)

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 02/27/2014 08:34 PM
Yes they did mention the HEK site.  I looked at it briefly and will keep it in my bookmarks.  Hoping they find something soon!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 02/27/2014 08:54 PM
I have a lot of sympathy with that: without RV confirmation to get the mass and better stellar properties, is it really that useful to be 99.8% certain there's a planet?  Kepler-296 is a good illustration of this: we don't even know which component of the binary the planets orbit.  But far better minds than mine will decide :-)
I thought that was a bit odd too. In a sense it doesn't matter, it's useful to have a set of systems where you can have a very high confidence that >99% are real, but seems a bit weird to call them planets when the paper itself says there are probably a couple of false positives. OTOH, my impression is that a lot of the non-Kepler planet "discoveries" are even less robust (lookin' at you, ACBb...)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: simonbp on 02/28/2014 04:21 PM
I have a lot of sympathy with that: without RV confirmation to get the mass and better stellar properties, is it really that useful to be 99.8% certain there's a planet?  Kepler-296 is a good illustration of this: we don't even know which component of the binary the planets orbit.  But far better minds than mine will decide :-)

For the vast majority of these systems, you are not going to get RV anytime soon. In fact, I'm pretty sure that nearly all the Kepler candidates which could have had RV detection already do. Only a small fraction of the Kepler host stars are bright enough for high-resolution spectroscopy (which by its nature needs a lot of photons), and many of stars that are bright enough are too active to see a good RV signal. So, transits are are good as you're going to get. And yes, they are interesting even without a mass because they still constrain the planetary formation models.

In fact, the prime reason TESS was selected was that it will primarily look for transiting systems around stars that are bright enough for RV follow-up. That is what we need to debias the Kepler statistics.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 02/28/2014 05:07 PM
Though I agree we won't get RV for many, I disagree that the situation is as bleak as you say. For example, there is a large RV follow up campaign using HARPS-N going on at the moment (the best RV instrument at present). The Kepler field has 80 dedicated nights a year for the next five years, and I suspect non-GTO time will also go towards this as well.

Yes, knowing the radius is useful, but without any other data, I don't think it constrains formation models that much, particularly for compact systems and in the super-Earth region where I think the density range is needed to understand migration models.

Don't get me wrong: knowing there is a large population of planets that are 99.8% likely to be real is useful, if for nothing else than picking targets.  But I find it slightly hard to think it as qualitatively the same as confirmation by two methods.

I'm also looking forward to data from all the new instruments (GPI, SPHERE, GAIA, ESPRESSO, TESS, Cheops, JWST, E-ELT, etc).  As you say getting an unbiased sample (e.g. across the metallicity range; the Kepler field is above the galactic ecliptic and slightly biased towards lower metallicities) is critical.  Not just surveys of both bright stars for ground based follow up, but astrometric detection by Gaia which is most sensisitive to "cold Jupiters".

Very exciting times!!!

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 03/04/2014 02:22 AM
Looks like some of these new Kepler discoveries made it into the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog tonight. Now there are 20 potentially habitable worlds listed.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 03/04/2014 08:43 AM
Yes, eight new ones were added.  Four from the recent Kepler haul and four from data from ESO's HARPS and UVES instruments.

Details are in table II here: http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog/data

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: catdlr on 03/07/2014 01:56 AM
Kepler Team Marks Five Years in Space

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-074&utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NASAJPL&utm_content=kepler20140306 (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-074&utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NASAJPL&utm_content=kepler20140306)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 04/15/2014 06:35 PM

April 15, 2014

NASA Hosts Media Teleconference to Announce Latest Kepler Discovery


NASA will host a news teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, April 17, to announce a new discovery made by its planet-hunting mission, the Kepler Space Telescope.

The journal Science has embargoed the findings until the time of the news conference.

The briefing participants are:

-- Douglas Hudgins, exoplanet exploration program scientist, NASA's Astrophysics Division in Washington
 -- Elisa Quintana, research scientist, SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
 -- Tom Barclay, research scientist, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames
 -- Victoria Meadows, professor of astronomy at the University of Washington, Seattle, and principal investigator for the Virtual Planetary Laboratory, a team in the NASA Astrobiology Institute at Ames

Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone -- the range of distance from a star in which the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might sustain liquid water. The telescope has since detected planets and planet candidates spanning a wide range of sizes and orbital distances, including those in the habitable zone. These findings have led to a better understanding of our place in the galaxy.

For dial-in information, media should e-mail their name, affiliation and telephone number to J.D. Harrington at j.d.harrington@nasa.gov no later than noon Thursday.

The public is invited to listen to the teleconference live on UStream at:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-arc

Audio of the teleconference also will be streamed live at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

Questions can be submitted on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA.

A link to relevant graphics will be posted at the start of the teleconference on NASA's Kepler site:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/15/2014 06:42 PM
SETI representative on the panel I see.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 04/15/2014 07:08 PM
Will be tuning in at noon Mountain Thursday.  Hoping it's the "holy grail" or something else super interesting like an exomoon or ringed planet.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 04/15/2014 08:01 PM
SETI representative on the panel I see.

There has been a SETI representative on many of the Kepler announcements.  Based on the line of work of the participants it sounds like a habitability/atmospheric type announcement.



Sufficed to say it won't be aliens.
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/15/2014 09:35 PM
SETI representative on the panel I see.

There has been a SETI representative on many of the Kepler announcements.  Based on the line of work of the participants it sounds like a habitability/atmospheric type announcement.



Sufficed to say it won't be aliens.

Well I wasn't expecting that. But maybe something like a planet analogous to Earth.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/17/2014 11:59 AM
Sufficed to say it won't be aliens.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/17/2014 06:05 PM
Earth sized planet which may have liquid water on its surface discovered by NASA telescope.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/science-technology/471038/Earth-sized-planet-which-may-have-liquid-water-on-its-surface-discovered-by-NASA-telescope
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Go4TLI on 04/17/2014 06:16 PM
I like this! 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/17/2014 06:17 PM
BBC link.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27054366
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 04/17/2014 06:33 PM
Kepler 186-f - not a "super-Earth" but a living, breathing Earth sized planet, has been found in the habitable zone of a red dwarf 500 LY away.  This. Is. Huge.

Looking forward to what Tess and Gaia come up with!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/17/2014 06:47 PM
Time to start building that interstellar probe.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: baldusi on 04/17/2014 07:27 PM
Shouldn't Kepler start throwing more of these around now? In other words, had it had a longer life, the chances of Earth analogs would have gone up exponentially.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: John44 on 04/17/2014 08:02 PM
NASA Media Teleconference to Announce Latest Kepler Discovery
http://www.space-multimedia.nl.eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8848

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/17/2014 08:20 PM
There is a concept for a large space based telescope shown in this video about this story, does anyone know what this concept is?

http://www.space.com/25531-new-earth-size-planet-could-have-water-video.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 04/17/2014 08:25 PM

April 17, 2014

NASA's Kepler Telescope Discovers First Earth-Size Planet in 'Habitable Zone'


Using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone" -- the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

While planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, they are all at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth and understanding their makeup is challenging. Kepler-186f is more reminiscent of Earth.

"The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet Earth," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Future NASA missions, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, will discover the nearest rocky exoplanets and determine their composition and atmospheric conditions, continuing humankind's quest to find truly Earth-like worlds."

Although the size of Kepler-186f is known, its mass and composition are not. Previous research, however, suggests that a planet the size of Kepler-186f is likely to be rocky.

"We know of just one planet where life exists -- Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth," said Elisa Quintana, research scientist at the SETI Institute at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and lead author of the paper published today in the journal Science. "Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward."

Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system, about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four companion planets, which orbit a star half the size and mass of our sun. The star is classified as an M dwarf, or red dwarf, a class of stars that makes up 70 percent of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

"M dwarfs are the most numerous stars," said Quintana. "The first signs of other life in the galaxy may well come from planets orbiting an M dwarf."

Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130-days and receives one-third the energy from its star that Earth gets from the sun, placing it nearer the outer edge of the habitable zone. On the surface of Kepler-186f, the brightness of its star at high noon is only as bright as our sun appears to us about an hour before sunset.

"Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has," said Thomas Barclay, research scientist at the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames, and co-author of the paper. "Kepler-186f can be thought of as an Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth."

The four companion planets, Kepler-186b, Kepler-186c, Kepler-186d, and Kepler-186e, whiz around their sun every four, seven, 13, and 22 days, respectively, making them too hot for life as we know it. These four inner planets all measure less than 1.5 times the size of Earth.

The next steps in the search for distant life include looking for true Earth-twins -- Earth-size planets orbiting within the habitable zone of a sun-like star -- and measuring the their chemical compositions. The Kepler Space Telescope, which simultaneously and continuously measured the brightness of more than 150,000 stars, is NASA's first mission capable of detecting Earth-size planets around stars like our sun.

Ames is responsible for Kepler's ground system development, mission operations, and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach.  The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Jeff Lerner on 04/17/2014 08:34 PM
....." placing it nearer the outer edge of the habitable zone....."

Wouldn't this likely make this planet  more Mars-like then Earth-like in terms of location and hence, more likely to not be habitable ?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 04/17/2014 08:42 PM
Wouldn't this likely make this planet  more Mars-like then Earth-like in terms of location and hence, more likely to not be habitable ?

If I got it correctly, the argument was that since the star is a red dwarf, a big chunk of its light output lies in the red and infrared regime where both water ice and atmospheric gasses (like CO2) are highly absorbing. In a sense, its starlight is more efficient at heating things up for a given wattage/square meter than our Sun is.

Another factor might be that since this planet is about 10% bigger in radius, it's likely to be farily more massive than Earth so it should be able to retain a thicker atmosphere than Mars (think Venus).
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: butters on 04/17/2014 08:47 PM
Mars only exceeds the freezing point seasonally and in equatorial regions. This planet seems to have an average temperature near freezing, which would make it significantly warmer than Mars.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/17/2014 08:49 PM
Wouldn't this likely make this planet  more Mars-like then Earth-like in terms of location and hence, more likely to not be habitable ?

If I got it correctly, the argument was that since the star is a red dwarf, a big chunk of its light output lies in the red and infrared regime where both water ice and atmospheric gasses (like CO2) are highly absorbing. In a sense, its starlight is more efficient at heating things up for a given wattage/square meter than our Sun is.

Another factor might be that since this planet is about 10% bigger in radius, it's likely to be farily more massive than Earth so it should be able to retain a thicker atmosphere than Mars (think Venus).

How much greater would its gravity be as it's 10% larger than Earth?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 04/17/2014 08:53 PM
Mars only exceeds the freezing point seasonally and in equatorial regions. This planet seems to have an average temperature near freezing, which would make it significantly warmer than Mars.

Great! Kepler found Andoria...
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: butters on 04/17/2014 08:54 PM
How much greater would its gravity be as it's 10% larger than Earth?

I don't think they know the planet's mass, just its diameter and an educated guess on composition.

I suppose they'd need to know the mass of the planet's star in order to calculate the mass of the planet based on its orbit. How do astrophysicists work this stuff out?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: R7 on 04/17/2014 09:07 PM
The space.com video shows Kepler-186f mass 1.11 of Earth and radius 1.1 so it appears to be less dense. Are telescopes accurate enough to sense possible atmosphere realistic with current tech, just waiting someone to loosen wallet?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 04/17/2014 11:42 PM
Here are the slides from the teleconference of today:
http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/Kepler186_FINAL-Apr2014.pdf

Here is rest of the press kit:
http://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/digital-press-kit-kepler-186f-an-earth-size-habitable-zone-planet/#.U1BmVvl5Myh
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: notsorandom on 04/18/2014 02:52 AM
The space.com video shows Kepler-186f mass 1.11 of Earth and radius 1.1 so it appears to be less dense. Are telescopes accurate enough to sense possible atmosphere realistic with current tech, just waiting someone to loosen wallet?
No not with out current telescopes. This was brought up in the teleconference and they said it was too dim  and too far away. In the later part of the decade once the James Webb and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite are launched we should have the ability to find planets around the closer and brighter stars then do some spectroscopy on them. However it will be a long time before we can tell much more about Kepler-186f.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: kevin-rf on 04/18/2014 12:35 PM
The space.com video shows Kepler-186f mass 1.11 of Earth and radius 1.1 so it appears to be less dense. Are telescopes accurate enough to sense possible atmosphere realistic with current tech, just waiting someone to loosen wallet?

I believe, and someone can correct me if I am wrong but the way to determine the mass of a planet orbiting a star is to see how the spectral lines shift (Doppler) as the planet orbit's the star. This involves feeding the star's light into a spectrograph and measuring the spectral line shift at various times. Using the star's mass and shift change one can calculate the mass required to cause the spectral shift. That would be the mass of your planet. The star is motion relative to us, so spectral lines would already have a red/blue shift. This is a periodic component on top of the stars normal spectral shift.

The size came from dimming observed during the eclipse observed by Kepler. The star diameter should be known.

The orbit from the timing of the eclipses (one would assume multiple eclipses).

In this case, no direct imaging of the planet is needed. Just the dimming of the stars light and how the star's spectral lines shift over the planets orbital period.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 04/18/2014 12:50 PM
I believe, and someone can correct me if I am wrong but the way to determine the mass of a planet orbiting a star is to see how the spectral lines shift (Doppler) as the planet orbit's the star.

This is not feasible for 186f. The planet orbits sufficiently far and is sufficiently small that any Doppler shift of the parent star is undetectable with current technology. The problem is made worse by the fact the star is intrinsically dim and quite far away (around 500 ly).

Planet masses can sometimes be deduced via transit timing variations, but again, it works best for tightly packed systems, i.e. the inner planets of Kepler 186.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 04/18/2014 09:17 PM
Planet masses can sometimes be deduced via transit timing variations, but again, it works best for tightly packed systems, i.e. the inner planets of Kepler 186.
One interesting point from the paper is that it is quite possible that there is a planet between e and f. An additional planet actually made their system formation models work better, and they found such a planet could plausible be inclined enough not to transit.

If it does exist, they put it around ~0.2 AU, which would be right around the inner edge of the habitable zone.

Regarding the mass, the preprint (http://arxiv.org/abs/1404.4368v1) says
Quote
The planets' masses have not been constrained with radial velocity or transit timing measurements (Quintana et al. 2014). Table 3 shows the range of plausible planetary masses assuming a range of compositions: 100% ice, 50% ice/ 50% rock, Earth-like composition, and 100% iron (following Fortney et al. 2007).
Table 3 gives planet f about 1.5 Mearth if it has an Earth-like composition.

edited to clarify we don't know what the composition actually is. Also, the pre-print I linked above is not the the main paper describing the discovery, although some of the same authors are involved. The discovery paper is http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6181/277.abstract (pay-walled, and not on arixiv as far as I can tell)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: AJA on 04/18/2014 11:03 PM

I googled the following after reading Phil Plait's blogpost on 186f (http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/04/17/kepler_186f_earth_sized_planet_in_the_habitable_zone.html).

Constraining exoplanet mass from transmission spectroscopy (http://xxx.tau.ac.il/pdf/1401.6181.pdf) - MIT EAPS
(Author's version of a 66 page PDF paper)


Here's a popular science version. (http://eapsweb.mit.edu/news/2013/weight-world)


Planetary mass - through gravity - affects the pressure profile of the atmosphere (which, is related to the temperature, and hence the spectra). The radiative forcing of the atmosphere due to planetary cooling also depends on mass of the planet (thermal conductivity, density etc.).
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: mdatb on 04/20/2014 09:34 PM
Table 3 gives planet f about 1.5 Mearth with an Earth-like composition.
:o

Must be Kepler's biggest find.

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 04/22/2014 10:25 AM
One interesting point from the paper is that it is quite possible that there is a planet between e and f. An additional planet actually made their system formation models work better, and they found such a planet could plausible be inclined enough not to transit.

If it does exist, they put it around ~0.2 AU, which would be right around the inner edge of the habitable zone.

Any planets in the gap might even transit if they are small enough.  It's hard enough to discern the transits of Kepler-186f, given the S/N ratio:

http://i1160.photobucket.com/albums/q490/Tony_Jebson/koi-57105_zps99fb919a.jpg

... so it is entirely feasible there are transits lost in the noise.

On mass, f is smaller than 1.5x Re so almost certainly "rocky" but that covers a multitude of sins.  It is also very unclear whether there would be any water.  This depends on the formation model, and (from memory) there are some hints that water deliver for these compact systems is less likely than for sun-like stars.

It is unclear how old the star is: most likely it is 4Gyr or older - which means f is likely to be tidally locked.  Not sure what this means for habitability - the paper cited by hop only used a 1D climate model and this required high partial pressures of CO2 and N2 to make liquid water feasible.  Locking *might* lower the pressures required for the (permanent) day side but I'd guess at least 2D modelling would be required.

On transmission spectroscopy, the star is too far away and too dim for us to do this.  To date, this has only been done for very short period hot Jupiters.

Anyway, and exciting find.  I'm looking forward to what K2, TESS and Plato will find!

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: stichtom on 04/22/2014 03:47 PM
Hi, i'm doing a research on the Kepler telescope and i need to find how it communicates with Earth and what protocols it uses. Does anyone know?

Thanks
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: SaxtonHale on 04/22/2014 05:53 PM
It uses the DSN

Lots of papers to dig into if you want to do more research.

http://kepler.nasa.gov/Mission/faq

http://kepler.nasa.gov/Science/ForScientists/papersAndDocumentation/SOCpapers/

http://kepler.nasa.gov/Science/ForScientists/papersAndDocumentation/papers19952006/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 04/24/2014 02:56 AM
The Kepler-186f Science paper is now on arXiv http://arxiv.org/abs/1404.5667
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 05/16/2014 11:06 AM
The NASA response to the senior review is now out.

Good news: The K2 mission has been approved

Kepler Space Telescope
 
The Kepler mission extension is approved for FY 2015-FY 2016 for K2 operations at a 10-
percent reduction from the requested level; the full request cannot be accommodated within the
constrained budget conditions. Additional funding will be provided for closeout of prime mission
at a level to be determined through the budget formulation process supplemented by the closeout
proposal review. Guidelines provided for FY 2017-FY 2018, including completion of both K2
and closeout in FY 2017, will be revisited in Senior Review 2016. The Astrophysics Division is
providing the Case II recommendation in the Senior Review report; the full recommendation
cannot be accommodated within the constrained budget conditions. The Kepler mission will be
invited to the 2016 Astrophysics Senior Review for consideration of the third year of the K2
extension.

See http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2014/05/15/NASA_Response_to_2014_Senior_Review_for_Operating_Missions_FINAL3.pdf
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: DMeader on 05/16/2014 07:51 PM
NASA image shows how Kepler will be managed in the K2 campaigns. Very clever.  http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/k2_explained_25nov_story_2.jpg (http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/k2_explained_25nov_story_2.jpg)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 06/04/2014 01:28 AM
A new "mega-earth" was just found from Kepler data. Kepler-10c is 2.3x the size of earth but 17x more massive. A solid, rocky world as massive as Neptune. Very intriguing and a problem for planet formation theories.

http://news.discovery.com/space/alien-life-exoplanets/strange-new-world-discovered-the-mega-earth-140602.htm
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 06/04/2014 07:01 AM
Article on the start of the K2 campaign, interesting that Neptune will be one of its targets, what are they looking for there, small moons?

Quote
Each of the nine fields planned for study in the next two years are in the zodiacal constellations and contain between 10,000 and 20,000 stars for observations by Kepler's telescope. The K2 mission's 100,000 targets also include the very bright cores of galaxies, supernovae, asteroids and Neptune, plus aging stars identified as candidates for research into the convective processes inside stars, a field known as astroseismology.

http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n1406/03kepler/
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 08/16/2014 09:39 PM
This seems most appropriate in this thread.

NASA/Library of Congress Astrobiology Symposium - Preparing for Discovery

Quote
Astrobiology has revealed new discoveries about our world and the solar system. Living organisms thrive in harsher environments on Earth than we ever previously imagined. Microbial biodiversity and extremophile life are now known to be ubiquitous and abundant. Beyond Earth, science has identified more than 1,400 exoplanets. That life thrives in multifarious conditions, coupled with these potentially habitable exoplanets and the detection of life-giving elements on numerous moons on asteroids, means we must face the possibility that simple or complex organisms may be discovered beyond Earth. How might we prepare for such a discovery? Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology Steven J. Dick convenes scientists, historians, philosophers and theologians from around the world for a two-day symposium at the Library of Congress to explore how we prepare to face new knowledge that may challenge our very conceptions of life and our place in the universe.

http://www.loc.gov/loc/kluge/news/nasa-program-2014.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 11/11/2014 05:18 PM
TESS cleared for next phase:
http://www.forecastinternational.com/news/article.cfm?recno=228506
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Targeteer on 12/12/2014 05:12 PM
http://blog.planethunters.org/2014/12/12/more-about-the-k2-campaign-0/

http://blog.planethunters.org/2014/12/09/just-out-new-data-from-the-kepler-mission/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Targeteer on 12/18/2014 06:21 PM
http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/december/nasa-s-kepler-reborn-makes-first-exoplanet-find-of-new-mission/#.VJMoqSdTCC0

NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft makes a comeback with the discovery of the first exoplanet found using its new mission -- K2.

The discovery was made when astronomers and engineers devised an ingenious way to repurpose Kepler for the K2 mission and continue its search of the cosmos for other worlds.

"Last summer, the possibility of a scientifically productive mission for Kepler after its reaction wheel failure in its extended mission was not part of the conversation," said Paul Hertz, NASA's astrophysics division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Today, thanks to an innovative idea and lots of hard work by the NASA and Ball Aerospace team, Kepler may well deliver the first candidates for follow-up study by the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of distant worlds and search for signatures of life."

Lead researcher Andrew Vanderburg, a graduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studied publicly available data collected by the spacecraft during a test of K2 in February 2014. The discovery was confirmed with measurements taken by the HARPS-North spectrograph of the Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands, which captured the wobble of the star caused by the planet’s gravitational tug as it orbits.

The newly confirmed planet, HIP 116454b, is 2.5 times the diameter of Earth and follows a close, nine-day orbit around a star that is smaller and cooler than our sun, making the planet too hot for life as we know it. HIP 116454b and its star are 180 light-years from Earth, toward the constellation Pisces.

Kepler’s onboard camera detects planets by looking for transits -- when a distant star dims slightly as a planet crosses in front of it. The smaller the planet, the weaker the dimming, so brightness measurements must be exquisitely precise. To enable that precision, the spacecraft must maintain steady pointing. In May 2013, data collection during Kepler's extended prime mission came to an end with the failure of the second of four reaction wheels, which are used to stabilize the spacecraft.

Rather than giving up on the stalwart spacecraft, a team of scientists and engineers crafted a resourceful strategy to use pressure from sunlight as a “virtual reaction wheel” to help control the spacecraft. The resulting K2 mission promises to not only continue Kepler’s planet hunt, but also to expand the search to bright nearby stars that harbor planets that can be studied in detail and better understand their composition. K2 also will introduce new opportunities to observe star clusters, active galaxies and supernovae.

Small planets like HIP 116454b, orbiting nearby bright stars, are a scientific sweet spot for K2 as they are good prospects for follow-up ground studies to obtain mass measurements. Using K2’s size measurements and ground-based mass measurements, astronomers can calculate the density of a planet to determine whether it is likely a rocky, watery or gaseous world.

"The Kepler mission showed us that planets larger in size than Earth and smaller than Neptune are common in the galaxy, yet they are absent in our solar system," said Steve Howell, Kepler/K2 project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "K2 is uniquely positioned to dramatically refine our understanding of these alien worlds and further define the boundary between rocky worlds like Earth and ice giants like Neptune."

Since the K2 mission officially began in May 2014, it has observed more than 35,000 stars and collected data on star clusters, dense star-forming regions, and several planetary objects within our own solar system. It is currently in its third campaign.

The research paper reporting this discovery has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.

Ames is responsible for Kepler's mission concept, ground system development, science data analysis and K2 mission operations. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado, developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 12/19/2014 05:33 PM
The corresponding paper is here:
http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.5674

Best thing about K2 discoveries will be that they are around bright stars and susceptible to ground based follow up

--- Tony
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 01/06/2015 05:37 PM
NASA’s Kepler Marks 1,000th Exoplanet Discovery, Uncovers More Small Worlds in Habitable Zones

NASA Kepler's Hall of Fame: Of the more than 1,000 verified planets found by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, eight are less than twice Earth-size and in their stars' habitable zone. All eight orbit stars cooler and smaller than our sun. The search continues for Earth-size habitable zone worlds around sun-like stars.
How many stars like our sun host planets like our Earth? NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope continuously monitored more than 150,000 stars beyond our solar system, and to date has offered scientists an assortment of more than 4,000 candidate planets for further study -- the 1,000th of which was recently verified.
Using Kepler data, scientists reached this millenary milestone after validating that eight more candidates spotted by the planet-hunting telescope are, in fact, planets. The Kepler team also has added another 554 candidates to the roll of potential planets, six of which are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of stars similar to our sun.
Three of the newly-validated planets are located in their distant suns’ habitable zone, the range of distances from the host star where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. Of the three, two are likely made of rock, like Earth.
"Each result from the planet-hunting Kepler mission's treasure trove of data takes us another step closer to answering the question of whether we are alone in the Universe," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “The Kepler team and its science community continue to produce impressive results with the data from this venerable explorer."
To determine whether a planet is made of rock, water or gas, scientists must know its size and mass. When its mass can’t be directly determined, scientists can infer what the planet is made of based on its size.
Two of the newly validated planets, Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b, are less than 1.5 times the diameter of Earth. Kepler-438b, 475 light-years away, is 12 percent bigger than Earth and orbits its star once every 35.2 days. Kepler-442b, 1,100 light-years away, is 33 percent bigger than Earth and orbits its star once every 112 days.
Both Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b orbit stars smaller and cooler than our sun, making the habitable zone closer to their parent star, in the direction of the constellation Lyra. The research paper reporting this finding has been accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
"With each new discovery of these small, possibly rocky worlds, our confidence strengthens in the determination of the true frequency of planets like Earth," said co-author Doug Caldwell, SETI Institute Kepler scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. "The day is on the horizon when we’ll know how common temperate, rocky planets like Earth are.”
With the detection of 554 more planet candidates from Kepler observations conducted May 2009 to April 2013, the Kepler team has raised the candidate count to 4,175. Eight of these new candidates are between one to two times the size of Earth, and orbit in their sun's habitable zone. Of these eight, six orbit stars that are similar to our sun in size and temperature. All candidates require follow-up observations and analysis to verify they are actual planets.
“Kepler collected data for four years -- long enough that we can now tease out the Earth-size candidates in one Earth-year orbits”, said Fergal Mullally, SETI Institute Kepler scientist at Ames who led the analysis of a new candidate catalog. “We’re closer than we’ve ever been to finding Earth twins around other sun-like stars. These are the planets we’re looking for”.
These findings also have been submitted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement.
Work is underway to translate these recent discoveries into estimates of how often rocky planets appear in the habitable zones of stars like our sun, a key step toward NASA's goal of understanding our place in the universe.
Scientists also are working on the next catalog release of Kepler’s four-year data set. The analysis will include the final month of data collected by the mission and also will be conducted using sophisticated software that is more sensitive to the tiny telltale signatures of small Earth-size planets than software used in the past.
Ames is responsible for Kepler's mission operations, ground system development and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colorado, developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and was funded by the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
-end-

http://www.nasa.gov/press/2015/january/nasa-s-kepler-marks-1000th-exoplanet-discovery-uncovers-more-small-worlds-in/#.VKwrPkbfWnM

Felicia Chou
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0257
felicia.chou@nasa.gov
Michele Johnson
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
650-604-6982
michele.johnson@nasa.gov
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 01/07/2015 06:10 PM
Here is the paper accompanying the announcement:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1501.01101

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 01/17/2015 07:35 PM
Three nearly Earth-size planets found orbiting nearby star.

Quote
NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, despite being hobbled by the loss of critical guidance systems, has discovered a star with three planets only slightly larger than Earth. The outermost planet orbits in the "Goldilocks" zone, a region where surface temperatures could be moderate enough for liquid water and perhaps life, to exist.
The star, EPIC 201367065, is a cool red M-dwarf about half the size and mass of our own sun. At a distance of 150 light years, the star ranks among the top 10 nearest stars known to have transiting planets. The star's proximity means it's bright enough for astronomers to study the planets' atmospheres to determine whether they are like Earth's atmosphere and possibly conducive to life.
"A thin atmosphere made of nitrogen and oxygen has allowed life to thrive on Earth. But nature is full of surprises. Many exoplanets discovered by the Kepler mission are enveloped by thick, hydrogen-rich atmospheres that are probably incompatible with life as we know it," said Ian Crossfield, the University of Arizona astronomer who led the study.

A paper describing the find by astronomers at the University of Arizona, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and other institutions has been submitted to Astrophysical Journal and is freely available on the arXiv website.

http://m.phys.org/news/2015-01-earth-size-planets-orbiting-nearby-star.html

Here's the paper.

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1501.03798v1.pdf
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 01/18/2015 05:46 PM
I expect to hear a lot more about that latest K2 find: the star is a bright M0.2 and ideal for follow-up, both ground based RV and Hubble transmission spectroscopy (and JWST when it launches).

I'd expect RV results later this year, which will give us a few more points on the radius/density curve

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 01/18/2015 06:21 PM

I expect to hear a lot more about that latest K2 find: the star is a bright M0.2 and ideal for follow-up, both ground based RV and Hubble transmission spectroscopy (and JWST when it launches).

I'd expect RV results later this year, which will give us a few more points on the radius/density curve

--- Tony

I'm predicting announcements of the most Earth like planets talking 95%+ similar later this year.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 01/19/2015 07:56 AM
I think that is a little over-optimistic (but not much) ... and I do expect a couple of over-hyped announcements :-)

K2 will find plenty more planets, but because of the decrease in sensitivity and short viewing window for each field, it is not really capable of finding long duration planets and the habitability/similarity of planets around M dwarfs is questionable (personally, I'm sceptical that you can call anything around an M-dwarf truly habitable due to tidal locking issues and flares).

In the short term, I think the best chance for Earth-like worlds around sun-like stars is still from the main Kepler pipeline.  There are a few KOI with very high ESI numbers which may be susceptible to ground based follow up (KOI-4878.01 springs to mind), which could happen this year and prove me to be a pessimist :-)

We also might get lucky and get a few single transit events from K2 but really to find truly Earth-like worlds will take a while ... long observation of K2 / TESS discoveries or (worst-case) Plato results.

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 01/19/2015 08:15 AM

I think that is a little over-optimistic (but not much) ... and I do expect a couple of over-hyped announcements :-)

K2 will find plenty more planets, but because of the decrease in sensitivity and short viewing window for each field, it is not really capable of finding long duration planets and the habitability/similarity of planets around M dwarfs is questionable (personally, I'm sceptical that you can call anything around an M-dwarf truly habitable due to tidal locking issues and flares).

In the short term, I think the best chance for Earth-like worlds around sun-like stars is still from the main Kepler pipeline.  There are a few KOI with very high ESI numbers which may be susceptible to ground based follow up (KOI-4878.01 springs to mind), which could happen this year and prove me to be a pessimist :-)

We also might get lucky and get a few single transit events from K2 but really to find truly Earth-like worlds will take a while ... long observation of K2 / TESS discoveries or (worst-case) Plato results.

--- Tony

I wasn't referring to the K2 mission but data still being extracted from the original one.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Targeteer on 05/14/2015 10:55 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw-q3uM_5_0

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/kepler/ames/kepler-observes-neptune-dance-with-its-moons

NASA's Kepler spacecraft, known for its planet-hunting prowess of other stars, is also studying solar system objects. In its new K2 mission, Neptune and two of its moons, Triton and Nereid, have been imaged. The movie illustrates 70 days of uninterrupted observation making this one of the longer continuous studies of an outer solar system object.

The movie, based on 101,580 images taken from November 2014 through January 2015 during K2's Campaign 3, reveals the perpetual clockwork of our solar system. The 70-day timespan is compressed into 34 seconds with the number of days noted in the top right corner.

Neptune appears on day 15 but does not travel alone in the video. The small faint object closely orbiting is its large moon Triton, which circles Neptune every 5.8 days. Appearing from the left at day 24, keen-eyed observers can also spot the tiny moon Nereid in its slow 360-day orbit around the planet. A few fast-moving asteroids make cameo appearances in the movie, showing up as streaks across the K2 field of view. The red dots are a few of the stars K2 examines in its search for transiting planets outside of our solar system.

Neptune's atmosphere reflects sunlight creating a bright appearance. The reflected light floods a number of pixels of the spacecraft's on board camera, producing the bright spikes extending above and below the planet. The celestial bodies in the stitched-together images are colored red to represent the wavelength response of the spacecraft's camera. In reality, Neptune is deep blue in color and its moons and the speeding asteroids are light grey while the background stars appear white from a distance.

Relative orbit speeds explain the interesting motion of Neptune and its moons beginning at day 42. Inner planets like Earth orbit more quickly than outer planets like Neptune. In the movie, Neptune’s apparent motion relative to the stationary stars is mostly due to the circular 372-day orbit of the Kepler spacecraft around the sun. If you look at distant objects and move your head back and forth, you will notice that objects close to you will also appear to move back and forth, relative to objects far away. The same concept is producing the apparent motion of Neptune.

While NASA’s Kepler spacecraft is known for its discoveries of planets around other stars, an international team of astronomers plans to use these data to track Neptune’s weather and probe the planet’s internal structure by studying subtle brightness fluctuations that can only be observed with K2.

NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Last Updated: May 14, 2015
Editor: Michele Johnson
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 07/20/2015 07:12 PM
July 20, 2015
MEDIA ADVISORY M15-110

NASA Hosts Media Teleconference to Announce Latest Kepler Discoveries

NASA will host a news teleconference at noon EDT Thursday, July 23 to announce new discoveries made by its planet-hunting mission, the Kepler Space Telescope.

The first exoplanet orbiting another star like our sun was discovered in 1995. Exoplanets, especially small Earth-size worlds, belonged within the realm of science fiction just 21 years ago. Today, and thousands of discoveries later, astronomers are on the cusp of finding something people have dreamed about for thousands of years -- another Earth.

The briefing participants are:
•John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington
•Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California
•Jeff Coughlin, Kepler research scientist at SETI Institute in Mountain View, California
•Didier Queloz, professor of astrophysics at Cambridge University, United Kingdom

Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission to detect Earth-size planets orbiting distant stars in or near the habitable zone -- the range of distance from a star in which the surface temperature of an orbiting planet might sustain liquid water. The telescope has since confirmed more than 1,000 planets and more than 3,000 planet candidates spanning a wide range of sizes and orbital distances, including those in the habitable zone.

For dial-in information, media should e-mail their name, affiliation and telephone number to Felicia Chou at felicia.chou@nasa.gov no later than 10 a.m. Thursday. Questions can be submitted on Twitter during the teleconference using the hashtag #askNASA.

The teleconference audio and visuals will be streamed live at:

http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio

For more information about NASA’s Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/22/2015 05:50 PM
This has been picked up widely in the UK online media.

Quote
NASA has had a pretty big month already, but apparently the US space agency's not done yet. The Ames Research Centre team has just revealed that they'll be making a big announcement on Thursday at 4pm UTC (9am PDT on Thursday, or 2am AEST on Friday) about the exoplanet-hunting Kepler mission. And speculation is already running wild that they may be about to announce the discovery of a new Earth-like planet in the habitable zone of a star... in other words, a potential new home for humanity (or prime spot to look for extraterrestiral life).

http://www.sciencealert.com/nasa-s-making-a-big-exoplanet-announcement-this-week-here-s-how-to-watch-live
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: sghill on 07/22/2015 07:36 PM
<sarcasm>It's a shame NASA has lost its way and doesn't do meaningful exploration anymore. </sarcasm>

*massive eye roll*


I can't wait for this presser!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Hauerg on 07/23/2015 04:07 PM
On all those links i get a message that media is not availaible in my regiion, which is Austria, Europe, due to right restrictions.
Wtf.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 07/23/2015 04:08 PM
Try reloading, I got an overload notice initially.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: WBY1984 on 07/23/2015 04:08 PM
Reading between the lines so far, it seems like they've found something earthlike.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 07/23/2015 04:11 PM
Media materials here: http://www.nasa.gov/keplerbriefing0723

Briefing is apparently about Kepler-452b, closest to Earth's twin so far:
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: sghill on 07/23/2015 04:18 PM
Announced the discovery of a single exoplanet that is rock sized, in the habitable zone, around a sun-like star (G2 type). Kepler- 452b

Is 5% further than Earth is from a star 10% larger and brighter with the same solar surface temp.

Receives 10% more energy as does Earth.  Has been in the sweet spot of it's habitable zone for 6 billion years.

Orbital period is almost the same as Earth.

Has a mass 5x Earth and surface gravity twice as high.

Likely has thick clouds and active volcanoes.



Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 07/23/2015 04:20 PM
For every 1 planet we see like this, there's 50 more that we cannot see because the system is not transiting. Plenty of planets in habitable zones around sunlike stars.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 07/23/2015 04:21 PM
... and I just lost the stream.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bargemanos on 07/23/2015 04:22 PM
... and I just lost the stream.

same here
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: the_other_Doug on 07/23/2015 04:22 PM
... and I just lost the stream.

Just cut off mid-sentence here, too.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: WBY1984 on 07/23/2015 04:22 PM
And same again. Typical.

Edit, back up again.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 07/23/2015 04:33 PM
Press release: http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-kepler-mission-discovers-bigger-older-cousin-to-earth
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: _INTER_ on 07/23/2015 04:33 PM
Why is this announceworthy? The new exoplanet doesnt even reach no. 1 on the ESI scale:
http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 07/23/2015 04:36 PM
Because it's the first rocky (?) planet detected in nearly a Earth-like orbit around a Sun-like star?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: _INTER_ on 07/23/2015 04:39 PM
I don't get it, if it was more earth-like than other discoveries it would be higher in ESI scale.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 07/23/2015 04:44 PM
Who said it was more earth-like than other discoveries?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Eer on 07/23/2015 04:46 PM
Why is this announceworthy? The new exoplanet doesnt even reach no. 1 on the ESI scale:
http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog

They made a point that this is the first earth-like planet in habitable zone around another G-type star.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jgoldader on 07/23/2015 04:49 PM
It's around a G-type star with orbital period of nearly one year.  The other planets with higher scores on that scale are around K/M stars with shorter periods.  So this planet sounds more like "home" than the others.

Not sure I'd want to try to walk around on Kepler 452-b with that surface gravity.  Ugh.  Definitely would want to lose some weight.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: K-P on 07/23/2015 04:51 PM
Why is this announceworthy? The new exoplanet doesnt even reach no. 1 on the ESI scale:
http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog

They made a point that this is the first earth-like planet in habitable zone around another G-type star.

And because of the fact that it is so far from the star (orbital period of 300+ days) I find it much better place to live (in my imagination) than those other ESI Top-10 planets, which have orbital period of about 30 days. No matter if the star they orbit is small, it still might have harmful flares etc. scorching the nearby planets... Also tidal locking is guaranteed with those planets.

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: _INTER_ on 07/23/2015 04:53 PM
Quote
Who said it was more earth-like than other discoveries?
Quote
They made a point that this is the first earth-like planet in habitable zone around another G-type star.
An announcement of this category does raise expectation and together with media calling it the discovery of an Earth 2.0... rather underwhelming to me to be honest.

Quote
And because of the fact that it is so far from the star (orbital period of 300+ days) I find it much better place to live (in my imagination) than those other ESI Top-10 planets, which have orbital period of about 30 days. No matter if the star they orbit is small, it still might have harmful flares etc. scorching the nearby planets... Also tidal locking is guaranteed with those planets.
Kepler-442 b and Kepler-62 e orbit a K-Star in about 112 to 120 days and are smaller. Also those planets are probably older.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Jeff Lerner on 07/23/2015 05:35 PM
Maybe I missed it during the Q&A but are there plans to follow up with current technology to gather more info on this planet ??...I heard there is some thought of volcanos on this planet...does that make it more likely Venus like (covered in clouds. Too hot  ) vs. Earth (some active volcanos but water, vegitation, etc)...
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: _INTER_ on 07/23/2015 06:04 PM
Quote
Maybe I missed it during the Q&A but are there plans to follow up with current technology to gather more info on this planet ??...I heard there is some thought of volcanos on this planet...does that make it more likely Venus like (covered in clouds. Too hot  ) vs. Earth (some active volcanos but water, vegitation, etc)...
In general anything beyond mass, volume, density, size, period and other physical values are more or less unfounded speculations for now. However I assume atmosphere analysis can be done in the near future.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Orbiter on 07/23/2015 06:06 PM
Why is this announceworthy? The new exoplanet doesnt even reach no. 1 on the ESI scale:
http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog

There's only one object that will have a 1.00 ESI, that's the Earth.

This is a major find, although long expected, Kepler-452 is a G2V sequence star as our own is, and Kepler-452 b is the first rocky object found in the habitable zone of a G2V sequence star.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: K-P on 07/23/2015 06:15 PM
Kepler-442 b and Kepler-62 e orbit a K-Star in about 112 to 120 days and are smaller. Also those planets are probably older.

So older dead world is less dead?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: notsorandom on 07/23/2015 06:19 PM
At 1,400 light years away I don't think any planed future telescopes will be able to do spectroscopy on the planet. That is too bad because the atmosphere of a planet like this has got to be interesting. At the press conference they mentioned that it should still be very volcanically active. I'd bet that it has a magnetic field, perhaps even stronger than Earth's. Those things and the increased gravity compared to Earth makes me think this planet must have a pretty thick atmosphere.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: ugordan on 07/23/2015 06:19 PM
Maybe I missed it during the Q&A but are there plans to follow up with current technology to gather more info on this planet ??

At 1400 ly distance, I don't believe so. Most of the stars Kepler watches are really far away because it's deliberately watching a packed starfield roughly in the galactic plane. You have to remember that its primary purpose was to give us an idea on statistical distributions of planets around other stars and the more stars it observes, the better. It's not well-suited for followup observations.

When TESS launches, it will focus on stars much closer to us where followup observations will be possible.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: _INTER_ on 07/23/2015 06:32 PM
Quote
So older dead world is less dead?
Look I'm not disagreeing with the discovery worth of a G-Warm Superearth with about same period as Earth. What I'm disagreeing with is how this is communicated by Nasa (announcement type, choice and hype) and especially by the media. People associate "Earth 2.0" with "Alien life or colonialization potential". That's what infuriates me.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Orbiter on 07/23/2015 06:37 PM
NASA isn't doing that, the media is, as they do with every exoplanetary discovery. NASA just called it "Earth's cousin". A cousin is hardly the same thing as a twin.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: _INTER_ on 07/23/2015 06:42 PM
Some sources measure Kepler-452b ESI of 0.862, which would somewhat repeal my arguments.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_potentially_habitable_exoplanets (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_potentially_habitable_exoplanets)
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/23/2015 06:50 PM
Quote
So older dead world is less dead?
Look I'm not disagreeing with the discovery worth of a G-Warm Superearth with about same period as Earth. What I'm disagreeing with is how this is communicated by Nasa (announcement type, choice and hype) and especially by the media. People associate "Earth 2.0" with "Alien life or colonialization potential". That's what infuriates me.

Don't blame NASA for bad reporting.

This doesn't have the highest ESI that's still Kepler-438b.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Orbiter on 07/23/2015 07:00 PM
Quote
So older dead world is less dead?
Look I'm not disagreeing with the discovery worth of a G-Warm Superearth with about same period as Earth. What I'm disagreeing with is how this is communicated by Nasa (announcement type, choice and hype) and especially by the media. People associate "Earth 2.0" with "Alien life or colonialization potential". That's what infuriates me.

Don't blame NASA for bad reporting.

This doesn't have the highest ESI that's still Kepler-438b.

True, but Kepler-438b orbits an M-sequence star, so there's a good chance it's tidally locked.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: JasonAW3 on 07/23/2015 07:02 PM
Why is this announceworthy? The new exoplanet doesnt even reach no. 1 on the ESI scale:
http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog

There's only one object that will have a 1.00 ESI, that's the Earth.

This is a major find, although long expected, Kepler-452 is a G2V sequence star as our own is, and Kepler-452 b is the first rocky object found in the habitable zone of a G2V sequence star.

You should worry if we ever find a world with a higher ESI than Earth!

     (More Earth like than Earth?)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: _INTER_ on 07/23/2015 07:06 PM
Quote
You should worry if we ever find a world with a higher ESI than Earth!
Yea because then, math has changed dramatically (False Vacuum bubble?).
No, the way ESI is calculated with normalizing, its impossible to get values bigger than 1.

---
ESI calculation compared:
habitable-exoplanets-catalog (http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog):
Considers stellar flux, mass, and radius

WIKI ESI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Similarity_Index):
Considers radius, bulk density, escape velocity and surface temperature.

So does the lower value in the catalog come from high stellar radiation?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: meekGee on 07/23/2015 08:28 PM
Quote
You should worry if we ever find a world with a higher ESI than Earth!
Yea because then, math has changed dramatically (False Vacuum bubble?).
No, the way ESI is calculated with normalizing, its impossible to get values bigger than 1.

---
ESI calculation compared:
habitable-exoplanets-catalog (http://phl.upr.edu/projects/habitable-exoplanets-catalog):
Considers stellar flux, mass, and radius

WIKI ESI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Similarity_Index):
Considers radius, bulk density, escape velocity and surface temperature.

So does the lower value in the catalog come from high stellar radiation?

He wasn't being Sirius.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Mongo62 on 07/24/2015 01:26 AM
If this planet's radius is 1.6 times that of Earth, it isn't an Earth-like planet. The papers I have read conclude that the transition from Earth-like (which includes planets like Venus) to Neptune-like is not at a single radius, but occupies a range of radii from ~1.2 Earth radii to ~1.6 Earth radii. So if this discovery had been of a planet with 1.2 Earth radii, then it would probably have been an Earth-like planet. But at 1.6 Earth radii, it's almost certainly a Neptune-like planet.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/24/2015 06:47 AM

If this planet's radius is 1.6 times that of Earth, it isn't an Earth-like planet. The papers I have read conclude that the transition from Earth-like (which includes planets like Venus) to Neptune-like is not at a single radius, but occupies a range of radii from ~1.2 Earth radii to ~1.6 Earth radii. So if this discovery had been of a planet with 1.2 Earth radii, then it would probably have been an Earth-like planet. But at 1.6 Earth radii, it's almost certainly a Neptune-like planet.

From what I've read two Earth radii is the more likely upper limit on rocky planets so this falls well within that limit.

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1311.0329v1.pdf

This paper puts the transiting line at 1.7R so this planet is still within that limit.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/24/2015 01:00 PM

If this planet's radius is 1.6 times that of Earth, it isn't an Earth-like planet. The papers I have read conclude that the transition from Earth-like (which includes planets like Venus) to Neptune-like is not at a single radius, but occupies a range of radii from ~1.2 Earth radii to ~1.6 Earth radii. So if this discovery had been of a planet with 1.2 Earth radii, then it would probably have been an Earth-like planet. But at 1.6 Earth radii, it's almost certainly a Neptune-like planet.

Why?  They can calculate the planet's diameter and also its mass and refine that calculation with each year the planet passes in front of its star.  A Neptune-like planet could be as small as 1.6 Earth radii, but it would also have a low mass compared to a rocky world the same diameter.  The scientists said it had "a better than 50/50 chance of being rocky."  That's a very different statement than "almost certainly a Neptune-like planet."

The paper I linked to above is actually taken from Kepler data.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: JasonAW3 on 07/24/2015 04:41 PM

If this planet's radius is 1.6 times that of Earth, it isn't an Earth-like planet. The papers I have read conclude that the transition from Earth-like (which includes planets like Venus) to Neptune-like is not at a single radius, but occupies a range of radii from ~1.2 Earth radii to ~1.6 Earth radii. So if this discovery had been of a planet with 1.2 Earth radii, then it would probably have been an Earth-like planet. But at 1.6 Earth radii, it's almost certainly a Neptune-like planet.

From what I've read two Earth radii is the more likely upper limit on rocky planets so this falls well within that limit.

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1311.0329v1.pdf

This paper puts the transiting line at 1.7R so this planet is still within that limit.

     Bear in mind, this also assumes that the planet is distant from the star when it ignites.  As we are finding in proto systems, the orbital characteristics of all planetismals (or protoplanets if you will) are fairly unstable and can swing out very distand and in again close enough that were the central sphere a star, it would be scourched.

     It may be possible for a high mass planet, Neptunian in configuration, to be close enough that, when the star ignites, the vast majority of it's atmosphere, if not all of it, is stripped away.  I would not be too suprised if this is a more common occurance than we currently suspect.

     However; I have an interesting question to pose;

     Is it possible that low gas / high dust ratio clouds of matter may follow similar planetary / star system formation, forming planets, but with a Hyper Jupiter type object as the system primary, rather than a star?  This would seem to be much like a Super Jupiter but with a MASSIVELY larger brown dwarf at the center than would otherwise be normal?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: MattMason on 07/24/2015 05:16 PM
At 1,400 light years away I don't think any planed future telescopes will be able to do spectroscopy on the planet. That is too bad because the atmosphere of a planet like this has got to be interesting. At the press conference they mentioned that it should still be very volcanically active. I'd bet that it has a magnetic field, perhaps even stronger than Earth's. Those things and the increased gravity compared to Earth makes me think this planet must have a pretty thick atmosphere.

Whether we have instruments that can detect a significant magnetic field around an exoplanet is for more illuminating than the body's size. We have plenty of examples of planets and moons with significant atmosphere. Only one has a powerful magnetosphere that doesn't cause the planet to allow its atmosphere to be blown and/or frozen off, go into a greenhouse mode and/or irradiate its surface.

That, as far as we know, isn't a matter of a planet's size. Seems the data is more in discussing size and distance than the planet's consistency. It's like a strange cosmological jingle to a commercial.

"When the moment is right for your solar system, a Little Blue Planet with its patented Core may bring life to your experience. (Side effects include occasional switching of poles and light flashes around the poles. Don't use the Little Blue Planet if you cannot place it within a specific location that doesn't cause freezing or melting of its populace.)"
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: llanitedave on 07/24/2015 09:27 PM
We have plenty of CO2, fortunately we also have plenty of water to lock that CO2 into carbonate minerals.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: AnalogMan on 07/24/2015 10:31 PM
This paper was listed amongst the Kepler media briefing materials, but I didn't see a link posted to it in this thread.
It was published July 23, 2015

Discovery and Validation of Kepler-425b - A 1.6-R+ Super Earth Exoplanet in the Habitable Zone of a G2 Star
https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/ms-r1b.pdf (https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/ms-r1b.pdf)

(copy also attached)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 07/25/2015 04:54 AM
Here is the audio of the Kepler 452b teleconference of July 23rd on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Eo992H4mH0

The slides for the teleconference can be found here:
http://www.nasa.gov/keplerbriefing0723
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: DRussell on 07/25/2015 12:58 PM
Even going back to the mass-radius relationships studied by Seager et al. (2007) a terrestrial planet with a radius of 1.6 RE should have a mass of 5-6 ME

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007ApJ...669.1279S

As a recent example of a terrestrial exoplanet there is Kepler 93b with a radius of 1.478 +/- 0.019 RE and a mass of 4.02 +/- 0.68 ME.

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2015ApJ...800..135D

So this new planet must be ~5-6x the Earth's mass if it is terrestrial in nature.

Dave
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Mongo62 on 07/25/2015 01:21 PM

If this planet's radius is 1.6 times that of Earth, it isn't an Earth-like planet. The papers I have read conclude that the transition from Earth-like (which includes planets like Venus) to Neptune-like is not at a single radius, but occupies a range of radii from ~1.2 Earth radii to ~1.6 Earth radii. So if this discovery had been of a planet with 1.2 Earth radii, then it would probably have been an Earth-like planet. But at 1.6 Earth radii, it's almost certainly a Neptune-like planet.

From what I've read two Earth radii is the more likely upper limit on rocky planets so this falls well within that limit.

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1311.0329v1.pdf

This paper puts the transiting line at 1.7R so this planet is still within that limit.

Here are some more recent papers than the out-of-date paper referenced above, in reverse chronological order.

How Rocky Are They? The Composition Distribution of Kepler's Sub-Neptune Planet Candidates within 0.15 AU (http://arxiv.org/abs/1409.2982)

Quote
5.3. The Rock-Gas Transition

Figure 6 also has implications for the expected transition between rocky and gaseous planets, assuming these planets do not have an appreciable mass fraction of water. In particular, we see that planets with 1.2 < Rpl < 1.8 R⊕ can be either rocky or gaseous, with f-env posteriors that span both compositions. This is consistent with the finding of Rogers (2014), which places the transition between rocky and gaseous planets at 1.5 R⊕ based on 50 Kepler confirmed planets with radial velocity mass measurements, primarily from Marcy et al. (2014).

Most 1.6 Earth-Radius Planets are not Rocky (http://arxiv.org/abs/1407.4457)

Quote
5.4. The Nature of sub-Neptune-size Kepler Planet Candidates

Our hierarchical bayesian analysis gives insights into the nature of the thousands of transiting Kepler planet candidates that do not have measured masses. Based on the sample of Kepler planets with RV follow-up, we found that most planets larger than 1.6 REarth are so low-density that a volatile envelope must contribute significantly to their transit radius. The Kepler Mission developed a working nomenclature for planets, based solely on their radii; describing planets < 1.25 REarth as Earth-size, 1.25 to 2.0 REarth as Super Earth-size, and 2 to 6 REarth as Neptune-size (e.g., Borucki et al. 2011). Our results (Figure 5) provide quantitative estimates of the fraction of planets in each of these ranges that are suficiently dense to be rocky. One of the primary science goals of the Kepler mission is to calculate the occurrence rate of Earth-like planets in the habitable zones of sun-like stars. We suggest that the operational definition of Earth-like" focus on planets with Rp < 1.6 REarth, to consider planets with a significant probability of having a rocky composition.

The limits on the fraction of planets of a given size that are dense enough to be rocky derived in this work should be regarded as upper bounds; it is likely that a smaller fraction of planets of any size are rocky. We have specifically investigated the fraction of planets that are suficiently dense to be rocky (i.e. more dense than an iron-poor, pure silicate composition). Planets suficiently dense to be rocky may still harbor a thick envelope of volatiles that contributes to its transit radius, if the volatiles are offset by a more iron-rich make-up for the rocky-component of the planet.

Masses, Radii, and Orbits of Small Kepler Planets: The Transition from Gaseous to Rocky Planets (http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.4195)

Quote
Figure 51 shows planet density vs radius for the 30 transiting planets having an uncertainty in density less than 6.5 g cm^−3. Planet density decreases with increasing planet radius from 1.5 to 5 R⊕. The densities of planets smaller than 1.5 R⊕ are systematically greater than ~5 g cm^−3, similar to that of Earth (5.5 g cm^−3), indicating that these planets have mostly rocky interiors.

The Mass-Radius Relation for 65 Exoplanets Smaller than 4 Earth Radii (http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.0936)

Quote
5. CONCLUSIONS

The weighted mean exoplanet density peaks at approximately 1.4 R⊕ and 7.6 g cm−3 which is consistent with an Earth-composition planet. Planet density increases with radius up to 1.5 R⊕, but above 1.5 R⊕, planet density decreases with planet radius. Planets smaller than 1.5R⊕ are consistent with a linear density-radius relation, and are also consistent with the Seager et al. (2007) Earth composition curve. Above 1.5R⊕, the decrease in planet density with increasing radius can only be due to the inclusion of volatiles, and so planets larger than 1.5 R⊕ are generally inconsistent with a purely rocky composition. Among planets larger than 1.5R⊕, the gentle rise in planet mass with increasing radius indicates a substantial change in radius for very little change in mass, suggesting that lightweight H/He gas is present in increasing quantities with increasing planetary radius.

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 07/25/2015 04:35 PM
Kepler 452b SETI Google Hangout:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prBlDgBm6w4
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: DRussell on 07/25/2015 06:19 PM
Quote from: Mongo62
Here are some more recent papers than the out-of-date paper referenced above,

The 2007 paper by Seager et al. is not dated.  According to ADS it has been cited 232 times including 24 times in 2015.  It is cited by every single one of the papers you referred to.  The Seager paper is a theoretical paper.  The papers you have cited are based upon observational data and they use the Seager et al. theoretical mass-radius relationships to help interpret the observations.  Here’s just one example from the paper by Weiss & Marcy you cited:

Quote from: Weiss&Marcy
  Many authors have explored the relationship between planet mass and radius as a means for understanding exoplanet compositions and as a predictive tool.  Seager et al. (2007) predict the mass-radius relationship for planets of various compositions. 

In their section on “Implications for planet compositions” section Weiss and Marcy note:

Quote from: Weiss&Marcy
Following Seager et al. (2007) prediction for the density of an Earth-composition (67.5% MgSiO3, 32.5% Fe) planet, we see a predicted increase in planet density with increasing planet radius.  …. Equation 1 and the density-radius relation from seager et al. (2007) are both consistent with the interpretation that planets smaller than 1.5 RE are rocky, but Equation 1 has advantages in that it (a) is empirical, and (b) passes closer to Earth, Venus, and Mars, which are known to be rich in silicon and magnesium (unlike Mercury, which is iron-rich).


And from the Weiss & Marcy conclusion:

Quote from: Weiss&Marcy
Planets smaller than 1.5 RE are consistent with a linear density-radius relation, and are also consistent with the Seager et al. (2007) Earth composition curve.

Your claim that the paper is out-of-date is simply not correct.

And the point I was making was that if ... if ... the planet is of Earth-like composition then it must be about 5-6 Earth masses based upon the not out-of-date  mass-radius relations investigated by Seager et. al (2007).  Of course it could be less massive, and lower density with a higher percentage of water or other volatiles.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Mongo62 on 07/25/2015 06:48 PM
And the point I was making was that if ... if ... the planet is of Earth-like composition then it must be about 5-6 Earth masses based upon the not out-of-date  mass-radius relations investigated by Seager et. al (2007).  Of course it could be less massive, and lower density with a higher percentage of water or other volatiles.

I was not responding to you. Your point is true, but irrelevant to the point I was making. I was responding to Star One's assertion that the upper radius limit of Earth-like planets is 2 Earth radii, when the actual limit is probably 1.5 Earth radii.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: DRussell on 07/25/2015 09:36 PM
And the point I was making was that if ... if ... the planet is of Earth-like composition then it must be about 5-6 Earth masses based upon the not out-of-date  mass-radius relations investigated by Seager et. al (2007).  Of course it could be less massive, and lower density with a higher percentage of water or other volatiles.

I was not responding to you. Your point is true, but irrelevant to the point I was making. I was responding to Star One's assertion that the upper radius limit of Earth-like planets is 2 Earth radii, when the actual limit is probably 1.5 Earth radii.

Sorry - my apologies.   I misunderstood who you were responding to.  You are correct - the latest research suggests that exoplanets with radii larger than ~1.6 Earth radii as a population will not be Earth-like - so less than 50% of the planets with radii from 1.6-2.0 Earth radii will be terrestrial. 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/25/2015 11:40 PM

And the point I was making was that if ... if ... the planet is of Earth-like composition then it must be about 5-6 Earth masses based upon the not out-of-date  mass-radius relations investigated by Seager et. al (2007).  Of course it could be less massive, and lower density with a higher percentage of water or other volatiles.

I was not responding to you. Your point is true, but irrelevant to the point I was making. I was responding to Star One's assertion that the upper radius limit of Earth-like planets is 2 Earth radii, when the actual limit is probably 1.5 Earth radii.

Sorry - my apologies.   I misunderstood who you were responding to.  You are correct - the latest research suggests that exoplanets with radii larger than ~1.6 Earth radii as a population will not be Earth-like - so less than 50% of the planets with radii from 1.6-2.0 Earth radii will be terrestrial.

If it's less than 50% that still means some of them will be terrestrial which invalidates the OP's point because it means there is a chance this is rocky. When their original post seemed to be implying there was no chance of this.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Vultur on 07/28/2015 12:27 AM
[quote author=Eer link=topic=16581.msg1408529#msg1408529 date=1437670019
And because of the fact that it is so far from the star (orbital period of 300+ days) I find it much better place to live (in my imagination) than those other ESI Top-10 planets, which have orbital period of about 30 days. No matter if the star they orbit is small, it still might have harmful flares etc. scorching the nearby planets... Also tidal locking is guaranteed with those planets.

Flares might strip away the atmosphere*, but I don't think tidal locking is necessarily a problem. From what I've read, oceans & atmosphere would redistribute heat rather well so the temperature range would be rather Earth-like: permanent Saharan summer noon at the subsolar point and permanent polar winter night at the opposite point, but with large pleasant areas in between.

*would a magnetic field protect sufficiently? If so, it would probably be fine. The heat output variations should be mitigated by oceans and atmosphere.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: mcgyver on 07/28/2015 09:12 AM
Why is this announceworthy?
Many people ask for this.
I read a similar first-page-news ona PAPER newspaper... around 20 years ago!

But his time:
Planet is 1.6 times the Earth.
Its star has almost same temperature of our star.
Its star sends it 1.1 times the energy our star sends to us.
Its star is 1.1 AU from it.
The solar system is older than ours, and the planet always staid in the habitable zone, for 6 billions of years (2 billions more than Earth).
Its year is 1.1 times our year. I think this is the most unusual thing: till now I've always read of hours-lasting or days-lasting "years"; this could mean that now we have (or have analyzed) enough data to start finding earth-year-like systems at last! Even planets 1 YL apart rather than 1400. :-) And a planet like 452b but 1 YL far would be much intriguing!
 
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: plutogno on 07/28/2015 11:21 AM
Planet is 1.6 times the Earth.

since you didn't specify it: planet is 1.6 times the SIZE of the Earth. we don't know its mass. for all we know it could be a mini-Neptune instead of a giant Earth.
and even the authors of the discovery are skeptical (see http://arxiv.org/abs/1507.06723 ):

Quote
We note that it is unlikely that Kepler-452b has an Earth-like composition

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: DRussell on 07/28/2015 11:41 AM
Planet is 1.6 times the Earth.

since you didn't specify it: planet is 1.6 times the SIZE of the Earth. we don't know its mass. for all we know it could be a mini-Neptune instead of a giant Earth.
and even the authors of the discovery are skeptical (see http://arxiv.org/abs/1507.06723 ):

Quote
We note that it is unlikely that Kepler-452b has an Earth-like composition

Right - using mass-radius relationships a planet with 1.6x the Earth's radius would have ~5x the Earth's mass if it had an Earth-like composition.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: DRussell on 07/28/2015 12:01 PM

And the point I was making was that if ... if ... the planet is of Earth-like composition then it must be about 5-6 Earth masses based upon the not out-of-date  mass-radius relations investigated by Seager et. al (2007).  Of course it could be less massive, and lower density with a higher percentage of water or other volatiles.

I was not responding to you. Your point is true, but irrelevant to the point I was making. I was responding to Star One's assertion that the upper radius limit of Earth-like planets is 2 Earth radii, when the actual limit is probably 1.5 Earth radii.

Sorry - my apologies.   I misunderstood who you were responding to.  You are correct - the latest research suggests that exoplanets with radii larger than ~1.6 Earth radii as a population will not be Earth-like - so less than 50% of the planets with radii from 1.6-2.0 Earth radii will be terrestrial.

If it's less than 50% that still means some of them will be terrestrial which invalidates the OP's point because it means there is a chance this is rocky. When their original post seemed to be implying there was no chance of this.

One of the uncertainties is about definitions: what do we mean by "Terrestrial" and by "Earth-like"?   Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are clearly terrestrial.  But what if we add a 1% by mass H/He envelope around a terrestrial planet.  I would argue such a planet is still terrestrial, but is it still "Earth-like"?  A lot of these planets with radius > 1.6 Earth will have a H/He gas envelope ranging from 0.5% to 16% of the total planetary mass.   

A great example of this type of planet would be the planets of the Kepler 11 system:

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013ApJ...770..131L

Lissauer et al. note that for several of the planets in the Kepler 11 system about 50% of the observed radius would be from the H/He envelope.    This is very different from the structure of the terrestrial planets and the gas giants.  Jupiter and Saturn are only ~8-22% by mass elements heavier than H/He. 

As we move up the radius scale above 1.6 Earth radii it becomes increasingly likely that we have these sort of gas envelopes surrounding the planets.

Dave
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: _INTER_ on 07/28/2015 03:17 PM
Why is this announceworthy?
Many people ask for this.
I read a similar first-page-news ona PAPER newspaper... around 20 years ago!

But his time:
Planet is 1.6 times the Earth.
Its star has almost same temperature of our star.
Its star sends it 1.1 times the energy our star sends to us.
Its star is 1.1 AU from it.
The solar system is older than ours, and the planet always staid in the habitable zone, for 6 billions of years (2 billions more than Earth).
Its year is 1.1 times our year. I think this is the most unusual thing: till now I've always read of hours-lasting or days-lasting "years"; this could mean that now we have (or have analyzed) enough data to start finding earth-year-like systems at last! Even planets 1 YL apart rather than 1400. :-) And a planet like 452b but 1 YL far would be much intriguing!
Let me rephrase it: Why does a planet, that's more similar to Earth in certain aspects and is way less similar elsewhere get more attention than exoplanets more habitable (note that ESI scale of Kepler 452b got corrected in wiki). Either ESI scale is not representing "potentially habitable" correctly enough or my interest in "potentially habitable" worlds is not that interesting to other people / scientists / media.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/28/2015 03:43 PM

Why is this announceworthy?
Many people ask for this.
I read a similar first-page-news ona PAPER newspaper... around 20 years ago!

But his time:
Planet is 1.6 times the Earth.
Its star has almost same temperature of our star.
Its star sends it 1.1 times the energy our star sends to us.
Its star is 1.1 AU from it.
The solar system is older than ours, and the planet always staid in the habitable zone, for 6 billions of years (2 billions more than Earth).
Its year is 1.1 times our year. I think this is the most unusual thing: till now I've always read of hours-lasting or days-lasting "years"; this could mean that now we have (or have analyzed) enough data to start finding earth-year-like systems at last! Even planets 1 YL apart rather than 1400. :-) And a planet like 452b but 1 YL far would be much intriguing!
Let me rephrase it: Why does a planet, that's more similar to Earth in certain aspects and is way less similar elsewhere get more attention than exoplanets more habitable (note that ESI scale of Kepler 452b got corrected in wiki). Either ESI scale is not representing "potentially habitable" correctly enough or my interest in "potentially habitable" worlds is not that interesting to other people / scientists / media.

I don't know perhaps it is because not everyone shares the same view or interest in these things. I am not sure the publicity around this announcement did any real harm, and it brings interest to the topic which is no bad thing in my view.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: notsorandom on 07/28/2015 03:57 PM
Let me rephrase it: Why does a planet, that's more similar to Earth in certain aspects and is way less similar elsewhere get more attention than exoplanets more habitable (note that ESI scale of Kepler 452b got corrected in wiki). Either ESI scale is not representing "potentially habitable" correctly enough or my interest in "potentially habitable" worlds is not that interesting to other people / scientists / media.
Two reasons I can see, one technical one scientific. Kepler was designed to detect all sorts of planets but specifically it was meant to detect planets like Kepler 452b. It is the only instrument that has a reasonable chance of doing so. Bigger planets are detectable using other methods like radial velocity. Smaller worlds orbiting close to their stars offer many more chances to catch a transit. Kepler provided an uninterrupted view for over four years with enough sensitivity to detect terrestrial worlds. With only 4 potential transits over the entire lifetime of the mission if Kepler had blinked once they could have missed it. The detection of Kepler 452b represents not only an impressive technological feat but a validation of the Kepler mission and its goals.

The other reason I think this was announcement worthy is due to the type of star it orbits. This was an important data point as the method of exoplanet detection biases the type of worlds discovered. We know now that a G class star can form planets like the ones around our sun. This had been theorized as likely but now we have proof. The number of known G class stars with small planets went from one to two and likely more as those candidates mentioned at the press conference are confirmed. Furthermore the most studied star is a G class star and we know they are great stars to host habitable planets. They are stable, calm, and long lasting. M and K class stars we know less about. What we do know raised serious concerns about the habitability of planets orbiting in the habitable zones of those stars. Other planets may rank higher on the ESI scale but that scale tends to be optimistic when it comes to M and K class stars.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: llanitedave on 07/28/2015 05:39 PM
[quote author=Eer link=topic=16581.msg1408529#msg1408529 date=1437670019
And because of the fact that it is so far from the star (orbital period of 300+ days) I find it much better place to live (in my imagination) than those other ESI Top-10 planets, which have orbital period of about 30 days. No matter if the star they orbit is small, it still might have harmful flares etc. scorching the nearby planets... Also tidal locking is guaranteed with those planets.

Flares might strip away the atmosphere*, but I don't think tidal locking is necessarily a problem. From what I've read, oceans & atmosphere would redistribute heat rather well so the temperature range would be rather Earth-like: permanent Saharan summer noon at the subsolar point and permanent polar winter night at the opposite point, but with large pleasant areas in between.

*would a magnetic field protect sufficiently? If so, it would probably be fine. The heat output variations should be mitigated by oceans and atmosphere.

I figured the atmosphere and oceans would evaporate off of the subsolar point and freeze out at the anti-solar point. Everything would eventually accumulate in the frozen zone and not be recycled back.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: _INTER_ on 07/29/2015 10:26 PM
Let me rephrase it: Why does a planet, that's more similar to Earth in certain aspects and is way less similar elsewhere get more attention than exoplanets more habitable (note that ESI scale of Kepler 452b got corrected in wiki). Either ESI scale is not representing "potentially habitable" correctly enough or my interest in "potentially habitable" worlds is not that interesting to other people / scientists / media.
Two reasons I can see, one technical one scientific. Kepler was designed to detect all sorts of planets but specifically it was meant to detect planets like Kepler 452b. It is the only instrument that has a reasonable chance of doing so. Bigger planets are detectable using other methods like radial velocity. Smaller worlds orbiting close to their stars offer many more chances to catch a transit. Kepler provided an uninterrupted view for over four years with enough sensitivity to detect terrestrial worlds. With only 4 potential transits over the entire lifetime of the mission if Kepler had blinked once they could have missed it. The detection of Kepler 452b represents not only an impressive technological feat but a validation of the Kepler mission and its goals.

The other reason I think this was announcement worthy is due to the type of star it orbits. This was an important data point as the method of exoplanet detection biases the type of worlds discovered. We know now that a G class star can form planets like the ones around our sun. This had been theorized as likely but now we have proof. The number of known G class stars with small planets went from one to two and likely more as those candidates mentioned at the press conference are confirmed. Furthermore the most studied star is a G class star and we know they are great stars to host habitable planets. They are stable, calm, and long lasting. M and K class stars we know less about. What we do know raised serious concerns about the habitability of planets orbiting in the habitable zones of those stars. Other planets may rank higher on the ESI scale but that scale tends to be optimistic when it comes to M and K class stars.
I completely agree with everything you state there. I'm just soo... consternated by how the general media is twisting and down-dumbing this informations these days. Also news conferences are more about the hype and exaggerating than scientific facts. (See Pluto). Well they have to compete with 5 hour full reports about popstar x's new album about her pet y ... sigh...
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Vultur on 07/30/2015 02:38 AM
[quote author=Eer link=topic=16581.msg1408529#msg1408529 date=1437670019
And because of the fact that it is so far from the star (orbital period of 300+ days) I find it much better place to live (in my imagination) than those other ESI Top-10 planets, which have orbital period of about 30 days. No matter if the star they orbit is small, it still might have harmful flares etc. scorching the nearby planets... Also tidal locking is guaranteed with those planets.

Flares might strip away the atmosphere*, but I don't think tidal locking is necessarily a problem. From what I've read, oceans & atmosphere would redistribute heat rather well so the temperature range would be rather Earth-like: permanent Saharan summer noon at the subsolar point and permanent polar winter night at the opposite point, but with large pleasant areas in between.

*would a magnetic field protect sufficiently? If so, it would probably be fine. The heat output variations should be mitigated by oceans and atmosphere.

I figured the atmosphere and oceans would evaporate off of the subsolar point and freeze out at the anti-solar point. Everything would eventually accumulate in the frozen zone and not be recycled back.

This is the traditional image and how it's been portrayed in SF since we thought Mercury and maybe Venus were tidally locked, but I'd read that now it was thought that the oceans & atmosphere could cycle heat sufficiently that they would never freeze out.
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 10/13/2015 09:42 PM
A rather interesting update concerning Kepler observations of a particular star. Natural objects or alien mega structures in orbit around the star?

Quote
The paper finds each explanation wanting, save for one. If another star had passed through the unusual star’s system, it could have yanked a sea of comets inward. Provided there were enough of them, the comets could have made the dimming pattern.

But that would be an extraordinary coincidence, if that happened so recently, only a few millennia before humans developed the tech to loft a telescope into space. That’s a narrow band of time, cosmically speaking.

And yet, the explanation has to be rare or coincidental. After all, this light pattern doesn’t show up anywhere else, across 150,000 stars. We know that something strange is going on out there.

When I spoke to Boyajian on the phone, she explained that her recent paper only reviews “natural” scenarios. “But,” she said, there were “other scenarios” she was considering.

Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is set to publish an alternative interpretation of the light pattern. SETI researchers have long suggested that we might be able to detect distant extraterrestrial civilizations, by looking for enormous technological artifacts orbiting other stars. Wright and his co-authors say the unusual star’s light pattern is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps stellar-light collectors, technology designed to catch energy from the star.

“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told me. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Boyajian is now working with Wright and Andrew Siemion, the Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. The three of them are writing up a proposal. They want to point a massive radio dish at the unusual star, to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with technological activity.

If they see a sizable amount of radio waves, they’ll follow up with the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, which may be able to say whether the radio waves were emitted by a technological source, like those that waft out into the universe from Earth’s network of radio stations.

Assuming all goes well, the first observation would take place in January, with the follow-up coming next fall. If things go really well, the follow-up could happen sooner. “If we saw something exciting, we could ask the director for special allotted time on the VLA,” Wright told me. “And in that case, we’d be asking to go on right away.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/10/the-most-interesting-star-in-our-galaxy/410023/

Here's the related paper.

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.03622v1.pdf
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 10/13/2015 11:44 PM
I happen to be one of the co-authors.  Yes it is very strange and a unique system as far as we know but I wouldn't call it aliens right yet, that's just sensationalism.  It has stumped a lot of clever people so far though.
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 10/14/2015 06:23 AM
I happen to be one of the co-authors.  Yes it is very strange and a unique system as far as we know but I wouldn't call it aliens right yet, that's just sensationalism.  It has stumped a lot of clever people so far though.

Well by the standards of some of the online press it was fairly restrained.;)

But to be fair to the article I thought they might be more referencing the proposed paper from Jason Wright?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 10/14/2015 12:38 PM
Well yeah I know, just feel a bit of a duty to set the record straight. Sadly whenever a scientist mentions the a-word you get a lot of people who may not understand the nuance getting overexcited, already starting on Twitter.

Yeah the article is about this other paper being worked on, but as far as I understand it this is to be a theoretical paper trying to explain away features, there is no actual evidence whatsoever of a*****.  I'm well versed in light curves and while this one is odd, nothing about it indicates a***** at all, just no one can come up with a satisfactory explanation for all the features right now.  I have seen planets being ripped apart, stars being rung like bells, worlds where other planets come so close to fill much of the sky, and on and on and on.  The universe is awesome, it doesn't need aliens to make it awesome.

Don't get me wrong I'd love to have stumbled upon the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, but we probably haven't.  ;)

Doesn't mean the mystery is any less fascinating.
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 10/14/2015 02:57 PM
Well yeah I know, just feel a bit of a duty to set the record straight. Sadly whenever a scientist mentions the a-word you get a lot of people who may not understand the nuance getting overexcited, already starting on Twitter.

Yeah the article is about this other paper being worked on, but as far as I understand it this is to be a theoretical paper trying to explain away features, there is no actual evidence whatsoever of a*****.  I'm well versed in light curves and while this one is odd, nothing about it indicates a***** at all, just no one can come up with a satisfactory explanation for all the features right now.  I have seen planets being ripped apart, stars being rung like bells, worlds where other planets come so close to fill much of the sky, and on and on and on.  The universe is awesome, it doesn't need aliens to make it awesome.

Don't get me wrong I'd love to have stumbled upon the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, but we probably haven't.  ;)

Doesn't mean the mystery is any less fascinating.

Just to get on my soapbox for a minute it would be pretty awesome if the universe had more intelligent life than just us at any one time, it would also knock the chip off our collective shoulders that it sometimes appears we have that the universe revolves around us as a species.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Silmfeanor on 10/14/2015 03:29 PM
Also a level-headed write-up on bad astronomy. Then again, there have been some ALIENZ! headlines popping up already. Let's hope the level-headedness prevails; it is mighty interesting, either way.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2015/10/14/weird_star_strange_dips_in_brightness_are_a_bit_baffling.html (http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2015/10/14/weird_star_strange_dips_in_brightness_are_a_bit_baffling.html)
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Chris Bergin on 10/21/2015 04:33 PM
Let's return this to updates.

Discussion can start from this point on the new thread:
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38687.0
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jgoldader on 10/21/2015 04:47 PM
Just for kicks to compare with KIC 8462852, here is a nice collection of typical light curves of variable stars.  Some are due to intrinsic variability, others are due to binary star mutual eclipses. 

http://kepler.nasa.gov/science/about/targetFieldOfView/stellarVariability/lightcurves/klc13/

A couple of notes:
In the case of eclipsing binaries, the eclipses occur at precisely regular intervals, unlike KIC 8462852.  Also, it's usually pretty easy to tell from spectra you have a binary, and KIC 8462852's spectrum shows no hints of binary.

In the case of dwarf novae, these stars are binaries with mass transfer from a main sequence or post-main sequence star onto a white dwarf via a hot accretion disk; there'd be emission lines in the spectrum and UV flux.  You may have multiple periods associated with the orbit of the binary (eclipses), the spin of the accretion disk, and even the spin of the white dwarf IIRC.  No sign of those in KIC 8462852.
 
In the case of intrinsically variable stars (the Cepheids and RR Lyra shown) these stars have clear periodicities.  They don't just stay steady for a year then have an off day.  Their colors tend to change as well, because the variability is due to pulsations that change the radius of the star, therefore temperature.  Again, very different from KIC 8462852.

There are many more types of variable stars, but nothing quite like the Kepler star.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/09/2016 02:24 PM
Mission Manager Update: Kepler spacecraft in emergency mode
During a scheduled contact on Thursday, April 7, mission operations engineers discovered that the Kepler spacecraft was in Emergency Mode (EM). EM is the lowest operational mode and is fuel intensive. Recovering from EM is the team's priority at this time.

The mission has declared a spacecraft emergency, which provides priority access to ground-based communications at the agency's Deep Space Network.

Initial indications are that Kepler entered EM approximately 36 hours ago, before mission operations began the maneuver to orient the spacecraft to point toward the center of the Milky Way for the K2 mission's microlensing observing campaign.

The spacecraft is nearly 75 million miles from Earth, making the communication slow. Even at the speed of light, it takes 13 minutes for a signal to travel to the spacecraft and back.

The last regular contact with the spacecraft was on April. 4.  The spacecraft was in good health and operating as expected.

Kepler completed its prime mission in 2012, detecting nearly 5,000 exoplanets, of which, more than 1,000 have been confirmed. In 2014 the Kepler spacecraft began a new mission called K2. In this extended mission, K2 continues the search for exoplanets while introducing new research opportunities to study young stars, supernovae, and many other astronomical objects.

Updates will be provided as additional information is available.

Regards,

Charlie Sobeck​
Kepler and K2 mission manager
NASA's Ames Research Center

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/mission-manager-update-kepler-spacecraft-in-emergency-mode
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Blackstar on 04/11/2016 06:56 PM
http://www.nasa.gov/feature/mission-manager-update-kepler-recovered-from-emergency-and-stable


April 11, 2016
Mission Manager Update: Kepler Recovered from Emergency and Stable

Mission operations engineers have successfully recovered the Kepler spacecraft from Emergency Mode (EM). On Sunday morning, the spacecraft reached a stable state with the communication antenna pointed toward Earth, enabling telemetry and historical event data to be downloaded to the ground. The spacecraft is operating in its lowest fuel-burn mode.

The mission has cancelled the spacecraft emergency, returning the Deep Space Network ground communications to normal scheduling.

Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 04/16/2016 01:21 AM
Recovery seems to be going well, though no root cause identified yet.

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/mission-manager-update-kepler-remains-stable-as-health-check-continues

April 15, 2016
Mission Manager Update: Kepler Remains Stable as Health Check Continues
The Kepler spacecraft remains stable as the process of returning it to science continues. The cause of the anomaly, first reported on April 8, remains under investigation.

Since Sunday morning the spacecraft has remained safely "parked" in a stable pointed configuration called Point Rest State. In this state, fuel usage remains low and the communication link to Earth is good. As of Tuesday, mission operations engineers had downlinked all the necessary data from Kepler to triage the situation and plan the steps toward recovery.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 04/19/2016 07:22 PM
Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Grunsfeld: should be able to start next Kepler observation campaign in a couple days, after recovering from recent emergency.
9:17 a.m. - 19 Apr 2016

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/722459221539819520
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 04/22/2016 12:18 PM
Campaign 7 data has been released

http://keplerscience.arc.nasa.gov/k2-data-release-notes.html

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: as58 on 04/22/2016 01:51 PM
Also a new paper on arxiv:

https://arxiv.org/abs/1604.06140
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 04/22/2016 05:28 PM
Microlensing campaign is go!

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/kepler/mission-manager-update-kepler-recovered-and-returned-to-the-k2-mission
Quote
April 22, 2016
Mission Manager Update: Kepler Recovered and Returned to the K2 Mission
The Kepler spacecraft has been recovered and, as of 8:30 a.m. PDT today, it is back on the job as the K2 mission searching for exoplanets—planets beyond our solar system.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: redliox on 04/22/2016 07:02 PM
Now that Kepler is running again, do we have any idea how long it could keep running based upon its fuel supply?  Of course another gyroscope could fail, but most of the time it's fuel that determines the longevity of orbiting spacecraft.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 05/04/2016 07:10 PM
Not sure if this is really worthy of an update, but from today's Reddit:

"CS/NASA: That's everyone's burning question, and I bet you're as frustrated as everyone to hear "We're still working on it."
But I think the answer is that we lost about 2 campaigns worth of fuel to this anomaly. It's harder to say how many campaigns we'll end up with, because we continue to squeeze more efficiency out of the fuel. But my best estimate is that we'll still get 17 campaigns, lasting into mid summer, 2018. Call me in 2 years and we'll see how close I was."

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: denis on 05/06/2016 10:09 PM
Now that Kepler is running again, do we have any idea how long it could keep running based upon its fuel supply?  Of course another gyroscope could fail, but most of the time it's fuel that determines the longevity of orbiting spacecraft.

You mean another reaction wheel, right? I didn't know there was a gyro failure.


Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jebbo on 05/07/2016 06:15 AM
Now that Kepler is running again, do we have any idea how long it could keep running based upon its fuel supply?  Of course another gyroscope could fail, but most of the time it's fuel that determines the longevity of orbiting spacecraft.

I got this answer on their reddit AMA a few days ago:

> But I think the answer is that we lost about 2 campaigns worth of fuel to this anomaly. It's harder to say how many campaigns we'll end up with, because we continue to squeeze more efficiency out of the fuel. But my best estimate is that we'll still get 17 campaigns, lasting into mid summer, 2018. Call me in 2 years and we'll see how close I was.

--- Tony
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 05/08/2016 10:15 AM
http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-announce-latest-kepler-discoveries-during-media-teleconference

Quote
NASA will host a news teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Tuesday, May 10 to announce the latest discoveries made by its planet-hunting mission, the Kepler Space Telescope.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 05/08/2016 01:37 PM
http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-announce-latest-kepler-discoveries-during-media-teleconference

Quote
NASA will host a news teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Tuesday, May 10 to announce the latest discoveries made by its planet-hunting mission, the Kepler Space Telescope.

Can't tell much from the list of participants.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 05/08/2016 07:28 PM
I believe the last time they did a teleconference they announced planets in the habitable zone that were earth-sized. Perhaps something along those lines again? 

But I'm wondering if this is about more results crunched from the original Kepler prime mission or the more recent K2.  The original mission stared at the same field of stars for years on end and the K2 is observing different sets of stars in a shorter period of time, if they found a new earth-like planet I would think it would be around a red dwarf since those would have a short orbital period and it would not take too long to get three transits for confirmation.  But I'll be tuned in on Tuesday!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 05/08/2016 08:28 PM
Based on the odd one out (Tim Morton) I would guess it to be related to planetary statistics rather than an individual planet discovery.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: TheFallen on 05/10/2016 05:15 PM
Kepler has found 1,284 new planets! That brings its count to 2,325..

http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasas-kepler-mission-announces-largest-collection-of-planets-ever-discovered/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Bubbinski on 05/10/2016 05:43 PM
And 9 of those planets are in the habitable zone. Kepler 1229b is in the middle of the hab zone and earth-sized.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 05/10/2016 05:49 PM
Here's the paper.

http://www.astro.princeton.edu/~tdm/koi-fpp/ms.pdf
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: karlo on 05/11/2016 11:30 PM
Hi.  Is there a forum for a related matter, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence?
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Sam Ho on 05/11/2016 11:46 PM
There was a really detailed Q&A with Mission manager Charlie Sobeck about the spacecraft emergency and recovery.  (This was preparatory to the Reddit AMA that happened last week.)

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/kepler/mission-manager-qa-recovering-the-kepler-spacecraft-to-hunt-for-exoplanets-again

Also, the slides from the press conference are posted:
http://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/kepler/briefingmaterials160510

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8v4SRfmoTuU
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Sam Ho on 05/11/2016 11:47 PM
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Sam Ho on 05/11/2016 11:51 PM
SpaceNews has an article about Sobeck's comments in the press conference on the spacecraft emergency as well.

http://spacenews.com/no-long-term-effects-from-kepler-spacecraft-anomaly/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: jacqmans on 05/12/2016 01:17 AM
May 10, 2016
RELEASE 16-051

NASA's Kepler Mission Announces Largest Collection of Planets Ever Discovered

NASA's Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets – the single largest finding of planets to date.

“This announcement more than doubles the number of confirmed planets from Kepler,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This gives us hope that somewhere out there, around a star much like ours, we can eventually discover another Earth.”

Analysis was performed on the Kepler space telescope’s July 2015 planet candidate catalog, which identified 4,302 potential planets. For 1,284 of the candidates, the probability of being a planet is greater than 99 percent – the minimum required to earn the status of “planet.” An additional 1,327 candidates are more likely than not to be actual planets, but they do not meet the 99 percent threshold and will require additional study. The remaining 707 are more likely to be some other astrophysical phenomena. This analysis also validated 984 candidates previously verified by other techniques.

"Before the Kepler space telescope launched, we did not know whether exoplanets were rare or common in the galaxy. Thanks to Kepler and the research community, we now know there could be more planets than stars,” said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters. "This knowledge informs the future missions that are needed to take us ever-closer to finding out whether we are alone in the universe."

Kepler captures the discrete signals of distant planets – decreases in brightness that occur when planets pass in front of, or transit, their stars – much like the May 9 Mercury transit of our sun. Since the discovery of the first planets outside our solar system more than two decades ago, researchers have resorted to a laborious, one-by-one process of verifying suspected planets.

This latest announcement, however, is based on a statistical analysis method that can be applied to many planet candidates simultaneously. Timothy Morton, associate research scholar at Princeton University in New Jersey and lead author of the scientific paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, employed a technique to assign each Kepler candidate a planet-hood probability percentage – the first such automated computation on this scale, as previous statistical techniques focused only on sub-groups within the greater list of planet candidates identified by Kepler.

"Planet candidates can be thought of like bread crumbs,” said Morton. “If you drop a few large crumbs on the floor, you can pick them up one by one. But, if you spill a whole bag of tiny crumbs, you're going to need a broom. This statistical analysis is our broom."

In the newly-validated batch of planets, nearly 550 could be rocky planets like Earth, based on their size. Nine of these orbit in their sun's habitable zone, which is the distance from a star where orbiting planets can have surface temperatures that allow liquid water to pool. With the addition of these nine, 21 exoplanets now are known to be members of this exclusive group.

"They say not to count our chickens before they're hatched, but that's exactly what these results allow us to do based on probabilities that each egg (candidate) will hatch into a chick (bona fide planet)," said Natalie Batalha, co-author of the paper and the Kepler mission scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “This work will help Kepler reach its full potential by yielding a deeper understanding of the number of stars that harbor potentially habitable, Earth-size planets -- a number that's needed to design future missions to search for habitable environments and living worlds.”

Of the nearly 5,000 total planet candidates found to date, more than 3,200 now have been verified, and 2,325 of these were discovered by Kepler. Launched in March 2009, Kepler is the first NASA mission to find potentially habitable Earth-size planets. For four years, Kepler monitored 150,000 stars in a single patch of sky, measuring the tiny, telltale dip in the brightness of a star that can be produced by a transiting planet. In 2018, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite will use the same method to monitor 200,000 bright nearby stars and search for planets, focusing on Earth and Super-Earth-sized.

Ames manages the Kepler missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system, with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

For briefing materials from Tuesday’s media teleconference where the new group of planets was announced, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/kepler/briefingmaterials160510
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: PahTo on 05/12/2016 02:02 AM

Fantastic set of posts--a "Like" just doesn't convey my appreciation.  Thanks!
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: scienceguy on 05/12/2016 04:09 AM
In Sam Ho's diagram of planet size, it showed that there are lots of super-earths, or planets with radii from 1.2 to 1.9 times that of Earth. If these planets have masses ranging from 1.44 to 3.61 times that of Earth, then they will have Earth-like gravity on their surfaces too! And I would guess that there are many planets in that range.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 05/12/2016 08:37 AM
2007 OR10: the largest unnamed world in the solar system

Quote
Recently, a group of astronomers did just that by combining data from two space observatories to reveal something surprising: a dwarf planet named 2007 OR10 is significantly larger than previously thought.

The results peg 2007 OR10 as the largest unnamed world in our solar system and the third largest of the current roster of about half a dozen dwarf planets. The study also found that the object is quite dark and rotating more slowly than almost any other body orbiting our Sun, taking close to 45 hours to complete its daily spin.

For their research, the scientists used NASA’s repurposed planet-hunting Kepler space telescope — its mission now known as K2 — along with the archival data from the infrared Herschel Space Observatory. Herschel was a mission of the European Space Agency with NASA participation. The research paper reporting these results is published in The Astronomical Journal.

“K2 has made yet another important contribution in revising the size estimate of 2007 OR10. But what’s really powerful is how combining K2 and Herschel data yields such a wealth of information about the object’s physical properties,” said Geert Barentsen, Kepler/K2 research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

The revised measurement of the planet’s diameter, 955 miles (1,535 kilometres), is about 60 miles (100 kilometres) greater than the next largest dwarf planet, Makemake, or about one-third smaller than Pluto. Another dwarf planet, named Haumea, has an oblong shape that is wider on its long axis than 2007 OR10, but its overall volume is smaller.

https://astronomynow.com/2016/05/12/2007-or10-the-largest-unnamed-world-in-the-solar-system/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 05/12/2016 07:33 PM
Kepler-223 star system has four mini-Neptunes in synchronised orbit

http://astronomynow.com/2016/05/12/kepler-223-star-system-has-four-mini-neptunes-in-synchronised-orbits/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 05/13/2016 02:59 AM
Here is the audio of the May 10th 2016 Kepler teleconference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MGQoxESoIY

The slides can be found here:

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/kepler/briefingmaterials160510
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 06/20/2016 08:28 PM
NASA's K2 Finds Newborn Exoplanet Around Young Star

Astronomers have discovered the youngest fully formed exoplanet ever detected. The discovery was made using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and its extended K2 mission, as well as the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars beyond our sun.

The newfound planet, K2-33b, is a bit larger than Neptune and whips tightly around its star every five days. It is only 5 to 10 million years old, making it one of a very few newborn planets found to date.

"Our Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old," said Trevor David of Caltech in Pasadena, lead author of a new study published online June 20, 2016, in the journal Nature. "By comparison, the planet K2-33b is very young. You might think of it as an infant." David is a graduate student working with astronomer Lynne Hillenbrand, also of Caltech.

Planet formation is a complex and tumultuous process that remains shrouded in mystery. Astronomers have discovered and confirmed roughly 3,000 exoplanets so far; however, nearly all of them are hosted by middle-aged stars, with ages of a billion years or more. For astronomers, attempting to understand the life cycles of planetary systems using existing examples is like trying to learn how people grow from babies to children to teenagers, by only studying adults.

"The newborn planet will help us better understand how planets form, which is important for understanding the processes that led to the formation of Earth," said co-author Erik Petigura of Caltech.


The first signals of the planet's existence were measured by K2. The telescope's camera detected a periodic dimming of the light emitted by the planet's host star, a sign that an orbiting planet could be regularly passing in front of the star and blocking the light. Data from the Keck Observatory validated that the dimming was indeed caused by a planet, and also helped confirm its youthful age.

Infrared measurements from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope showed that the system's star is surrounded by a thin disk of planetary debris, indicating that its planet-formation phase is wrapping up. Planets form out of thick disks of gas and dust, called protoplanetary disks, that surround young stars.

"Initially, this material may obscure any forming planets, but after a few million years, the dust starts to dissipate," said co-author Anne Marie Cody, a NASA Postdoctoral Program fellow at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. "It is during this time window that we can begin to detect the signatures of youthful planets with K2."

A surprising feature in the discovery of K2-33b is how close the newborn planet lies to its star. The planet is nearly 10 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun, making it hot. While numerous older exoplanets have been found orbiting very tightly to their stars, astronomers have long struggled to understand how more massive planets like this one wind up in such small orbits. Some theories propose that it takes hundreds of millions of years to bring a planet from a more distant orbit into a close one -- and therefore cannot explain K2-33b, which is quite a bit younger.

The science team says there are two main theories that may explain how K2-33b wound up so close to its star. It could have migrated there in a process called disk migration that takes hundreds of thousands of years. Or, the planet could have formed "in situ" -- right where it is. The discovery of K2-33b therefore gives theorists a new data point to ponder.

"After the first discoveries of massive exoplanets on close orbits about 20 years ago, it was immediately suggested that they could absolutely not have formed there, but in the past several years, some momentum has grown for in situ formation theories, so the idea is not as wild as it once seemed," said David.

"The question we are answering is: Did those planets take a long time to get into those hot orbits, or could they have been there from a very early stage? We are saying, at least in this one case, that they can indeed be there at a very early stage," he said.

Ames manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder.


News Media Contact

Elizabeth Landau
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6425
elizabeth.landau@jpl.nasa.gov

Michele Johnson
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
650-604-6982
michele.johnson@nasa.gov

Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-0257
felicia.chou@nasa.gov

Written by Whitney Clavin

2016-156

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2016-156
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/01/2016 04:55 PM
Five Planets Transiting a Ninth Magnitude Star

Quote
The Kepler mission has revealed a great diversity of planetary systems and architectures, but most of the planets discovered by Kepler orbit faint stars. Using new data from the K2 mission, we present the discovery of a five planet system transiting a bright (V = 8.9, K = 7.7) star called HIP 41378. HIP 41378 is a slightly metal-poor late F-type star with moderate rotation (v sin(i) = 7 km/s) and lies at a distance of 116 +/- 18 from Earth. We find that HIP 41378 hosts two sub-Neptune sized planets orbiting 3.5% outside a 2:1 period commensurability in 15.6 and 31.7 day orbits. In addition, we detect three planets which each transit once during the 75 days spanned by K2 observations. One planet is Neptune sized in a likely ~160 day orbit, one is sub-Saturn sized likely in a ~130 day orbit, and one is a Jupiter sized planet in a likely ~1 year orbit. We show that these estimates for the orbital periods can be made more precise by taking into account dynamical stability considerations. We also calculate the distribution of stellar reflex velocities expected for this system, and show that it provides a good target for future radial velocity observations. If a precise orbital period can be determined for the outer Jovian planet through future observations, it will be an excellent candidate for follow-up transit observations to study its atmosphere and measure its oblateness.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1606.08441
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/15/2016 06:54 PM
WARM JUPITERS ARE LESS LONELY THAN HOT JUPITERS: CLOSE NEIGHBORS

Quote
Exploiting the Kepler transit data, we uncover a dramatic distinction in the prevalence of sub-Jovian companions between systems that contain hot Jupiters (HJs) (periods inward of 10 days) and those that host warm Jupiters (WJs) (periods between 10 and 200 days). HJs, with the singular exception of WASP-47b, do not have any detectable inner or outer planetary companions (with periods inward of 50 days and sizes down to 2 R Earth). Restricting ourselves to inner companions, our limits reach down to 1 R Earth. In stark contrast, half of the WJs are closely flanked by small companions. Statistically, the companion fractions for hot and WJs are mutually exclusive, particularly in regard to inner companions. The high companion fraction of WJs also yields clues to their formation. The WJs that have close-by siblings should have low orbital eccentricities and low mutual inclinations. The orbital configurations of these systems are reminiscent of those of the low-mass close-in planetary systems abundantly discovered by the Kepler mission. This, and other arguments, lead us to propose that these WJs are formed in situ. There are indications that there may be a second population of WJs with different characteristics. In this picture, WASP-47b could be regarded as the extending tail of the in situ WJs into the HJ region and does not represent the generic formation route for HJs.

http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/0004-637X/825/2/98
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/18/2016 08:15 PM
News | July 18, 2016
NASA's Kepler Confirms 100+ Exoplanets During Its K2 Mission
This artist's concept shows NASA's Kepler Space Telescope on its K2 mission.
This artist's concept shows NASA's Kepler Space Telescope on its K2 mission. In July 2016, an international team of astronomers announced they had discovered more than 100 new planets using this telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
› Full image and caption

An international team of astronomers has discovered and confirmed a treasure trove of new worlds using NASA's Kepler spacecraft on its K2 mission. Out of 197 initial planet candidates, scientists have confirmed 104 planets outside our solar system. Among the confirmed is a planetary system comprising four promising planets that could be rocky.

These four planets, all between 20 and 50 percent larger than Earth by diameter, are orbiting the M dwarf star K2-72, found 181 light-years away in the direction of the Aquarius constellation. The host star is less than half the size of the sun and less bright. The planets' orbital periods range from five-and-a-half to 24 days, and two of them may experience irradiation levels from their star comparable to those on Earth. Despite their tight orbits -- closer than Mercury's orbit around our sun -- the possibility that life could arise on a planet around such a star cannot be ruled out, according to lead author Ian Crossfield, a Sagan Fellow at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson.

The researchers achieved this extraordinary "roundup" of exoplanets by combining data with follow-up observations by Earth-based telescopes including the North Gemini telescope and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the Automated Planet Finder of the University of California Observatories, and the Large Binocular Telescope operated by the University of Arizona. The discoveries are published online in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.

Both Kepler and its K2 mission discover new planets by measuring the subtle dip in a star's brightness caused by a planet passing in front of its star. In its initial mission, Kepler surveyed just one patch of sky in the northern hemisphere, determining the frequency of planets whose size and temperature might be similar to Earth orbiting stars similar to our sun. In the spacecraft's extended mission in 2013, it lost its ability to precisely stare at its original target area, but a brilliant fix. created a second life for the telescope that is proving scientifically fruitful.

After the fix, Kepler started its K2 mission, which has provided an ecliptic field of view with greater opportunities for Earth-based observatories in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Additionally, the K2 mission is entirely community-driven with all targets proposed by the scientific community.

Because it covers more of the sky, the K2 mission is capable of observing a larger fraction of cooler, smaller, red-dwarf type stars, and because such stars are much more common in the Milky Way than sun-like stars, nearby stars will predominantly be red dwarfs.

"An analogy would be to say that Kepler performed a demographic study, while the K2 mission focuses on the bright and nearby stars with different types of planets," said Crossfield. "The K2 mission allows us to increase the number of small, red stars by a factor of 20, significantly increasing the number of astronomical 'movie stars' that make the best systems for further study."

To validate candidate planets identified by K2, the researchers obtained high-resolution images of the planet-hosting stars as well as high-resolution optical spectroscopy. By dispersing the starlight as through a prism, the spectrographs allowed the researchers to infer the physical properties of a star -- such as mass, radius and temperature -- from which the properties of any planets orbiting it can be inferred.

These observations represent a natural stepping stone from the K2 mission to NASA's other upcoming exoplanet missions, such as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and James Webb Space Telescope.

"This bountiful list of validated exoplanets from the K2 mission highlights the fact that the targeted examination of bright stars and nearby stars along the ecliptic is providing many interesting new planets," said Steve Howell, project scientist for the K2 mission at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "These targets allow the astronomical community ease of follow-up and characterization, providing a few gems for first study by the James Webb Space Telescope, which could perhaps tell us about the planets' atmospheres."

This work was performed in part under contract with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory funded by NASA through the Sagan Fellowship Program executed by the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute.

NASA Ames manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. JPL in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

For more information on the Kepler and the K2 mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

For more information about exoplanets, visit:

https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6572
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 07/20/2016 08:20 PM
Two super-Earth-sized planets discovered orbiting a nearby star

Quote
NASA's Kepler spacecraft continues its fruitful exoplanet hunt with the newest discovery of two super-Earth-sized alien worlds. The newly detected planets are orbiting a nearby sun-sized star known as HD 3167, located some 150 light years away. The results are presented in a paper published July 18 on the arXiv pre-print server.

Although Kepler has lost two of its four reaction wheels and therefore cannot be precisely pointed toward stars, it is still capable of detecting new exoworlds. The spacecraft is now in its extended mission, known as K2, during which it has already found over 100 new planets. The HD 3167 system is just the latest addition to the vast collection of extrasolar worlds detected by K2.

HD 3167 was observed by Kepler between January 3 and March 23, 2016 during Campaign 8 of its K2 mission. This observation campaign allowed a team of astronomers, led by Andrew Vanderburg of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), to detect two transit signals that could be planets circling around this nearby star.

"We identified two planet candidates transiting HD 3167 after processing pixel-level data to produce a light curve, removing systematic effects due to Kepler's unstable pointing, and searching for planets using a Box Least Squares periodogram search," the researchers wrote in the paper.

http://m.phys.org/news/2016-07-super-earth-sized-planets-orbiting-nearby-star.html
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Lar on 08/01/2016 03:11 PM
Many of the last few posts should really be in the discussion thread (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38687.0)

Thank you AnalogMan for the report AND for giving the link, saving moderator time. I've moved some posts. Might have missed some. Might have moved some that shouldn't have. PM me if you are so inclined.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 08/05/2016 08:14 PM
Another glitch
http://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/kepler/kepler-mission-manager-update-k2-campaign-10
Quote
Kepler Mission Manager Update: K2 Campaign 10
During a scheduled contact with NASA's Kepler space telescope on Thursday, July 28, the team found the photometer—the camera onboard the spacecraft—powered off. The photometer was turned on again and the flight system returned to autonomous science operations on Monday, Aug. 1. We will confirm that science operations have been resumed within a week. The team is currently investigating the cause; the spacecraft is otherwise operating normally.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 08/08/2016 08:45 PM
It appears issue in the previous update may have been due to another CCD module failing

http://keplerscience.arc.nasa.gov/break-in-science-collection-during-k2-campaign-10.html
Quote
While the cause of this is yet to be confirmed, the observables are in family with those seen in conjunction with the failure of science CCD Modules 3 and 7 in 2010 and 2014. Further, thermal data retrieved from the spacecraft are strongly suggestive of a drop in power dissipated by Module 4 that is again in family with a similar drop when Modules 3 and 7 failed. Thus there is a strong likelihood that Module 4 is no longer functioning. If this is indeed the case, this would leave us with 18 remaining science modules of the initial 21.
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 10/07/2016 07:08 PM
NASA's Kepler Gets the 'Big Picture' of Comet 67P

On Sept. 30, the European Space Agency concluded its Rosetta mission and the study of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. During the final month of the mission, NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft had a unique opportunity to provide a "big picture" view of the comet as it was unobservable from Earth. Ground-based telescopes could not see comet 67P, because the comet's orbit placed it in the sky during daylight hours.

From Sept. 7 through Sept. 20, the Kepler spacecraft, operating in its K2 mission, fixed its gaze on comet 67P. From the distant vantage point of Kepler, the spacecraft could observe the comet's core and tail. The long-range global view of Kepler complements the close-in view of the Rosetta spacecraft, providing context for the high-resolution investigation Rosetta performed as it descended closer and closer to the comet.

During the two-week period of study, Kepler took a picture of the comet every 30 minutes. The animation shows a period of 29.5 hours of observation from Sept. 17 through Sept. 18. The comet is seen passing through Kepler's field of view from top right to bottom left, as outlined by the diagonal strip. The white dots represent stars and other regions in space studied during K2's tenth observing campaign.

As a comet travels through space, it sheds a tail of gas and dust. A comet's activity level can be obtained by measuring the reflected sunlight. Analyzing the Kepler data, scientists will be able to determine the amount of mass lost each day as comet 67P travels through the solar system.

NASA Ames manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

For more information on Kepler and the K2 missions, go to:

www.nasa.gov/kepler

For more information on Rosetta, go to:

https://www.nasa.gov/rosetta/


News Media Contact

Elizabeth Landau
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6425
elizabeth.landau@jpl.nasa.gov

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6641
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 11/28/2016 07:27 PM
Potentially habitable super-Earth K2-3d observed transiting parent star

Quote
A group of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the University of Tokyo, and the Astrobiology Center among others has observed the transit of a potentially Earth-like extrasolar planet known as K2-3d using the MuSCAT instrument on the Okayama Astrophysical Observatory 188-centimetre telescope. A transit is a phenomenon in which a planet passes in front of its parent star, blocking a small amount of light from the star, like a shadow of the planet. While transits have previously been observed for thousands of other extrasolar planets, K2-3d is important because there is a possibility that it might harbour extraterrestrial life.

Quote
K2-3d is an extrasolar planet 147 light-years away that was discovered by NASA’s Kepler K2 mission. K2-3d’s size is 1.5 times that of the Earth. The planet orbits its host star — also known as EPIC 201367065, hosting two other super-Earth exoplanets, K2-3b and c — which is half the size of the Sun, with a period of about 45 days. Compared to the Earth, the planet orbits close to its host star (about &frac15; of the Earth-Sun distance). But, because the temperature of the host star is lower than that of the Sun, calculations show that this is the right distance for the planet to have a relatively warm climate like the Earth’s. There is a possibility that liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet, raising the tantalising possibility of extraterrestrial life.

K2-3d’s orbit is aligned so that as seen from Earth, it transits (passes in front of) its host star. This causes, short, periodic decreases in the star’s brightness, as the planet blocks some of the star’s light. This alignment enables researchers to probe the atmospheric composition of these planets by precise measurement of the amount of blocked starlight at different wavelengths.
About 30 potentially habitable planets that also have transiting orbits were discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission, but most of these planets orbit fainter, more distant stars. Because it is closer to Earth and its host star is brighter, K2-3d is a more interesting candidate for detailed follow-up studies. The brightness decrease of the host star caused by the transit of K2-3d is small, only 0.07 percent. However, it is expected that the next generation of large telescopes will be able to measure how this brightness decrease varies with wavelength, enabling investigations of the composition of the planet’s atmosphere. If extraterrestrial life exists on K2-3d, scientists hope to be able to detect molecules related to it, such as oxygen, in the atmosphere.

MuSCAT observations and transit ephemeris improvements
The orbital period of K2-3d is about 45 days. Since the K2 mission’s survey period is only 80 days for each area of sky, researchers could only measure two transits in the K2 data. This isn’t sufficient to measure the planet’s orbital period precisely, so when researchers attempt to predict the times of future transits, creating something called a “transit ephemeris,” but there are uncertainties in the predicted times. These uncertainties grow larger as they try to predict further into the future. Therefore, early additional transit observations and adjustments to the ephemeris were required before researchers lost track of the transit. Because of the importance of K2-3d, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope observed two transits soon after the planet’s discovery, bringing the total to four transit measurements. However, the addition of even a single transit measurement farther in the future can help to yield a significantly improved ephemeris.

Using the Okayama 188-centimetre Reflector Telescope and the latest observational instrument MuSCAT, the team observed a transit of K2-3d for the first time with a ground-based telescope. Though a 0.07 percent brightness decrease is near the limit of what can be observed with ground-based telescopes, MuSCAT’s ability to observe three wavelength bands simultaneously enhanced its ability to detect the transit. By reanalysing the data from K2 and Spitzer in combination with this new observation, researchers have greatly improved the precision of the ephemeris, determining the orbital period of the planet to within about 18 seconds (1/30 of the original uncertainty). This improved transit ephemeris ensures that when the next generation of large telescopes come online, they will know exactly when to watch for transits. Thus these research results help pave the way for future extraterrestrial life surveys.

https://astronomynow.com/2016/11/28/potentially-habitable-super-earth-k2-3d-observed-transiting-parent-star/

Paper.

http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/0004-6256/152/6/171
Title: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: Star One on 06/19/2017 04:04 PM
NASA Releases Kepler Survey Catalog with Hundreds of New Planet Candidates

NASA’s Kepler space telescope team has released a mission catalog of planet candidates that introduces 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and orbiting in their star's habitable zone, which is the range of distance from a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of a rocky planet.

This is the most comprehensive and detailed catalog release of candidate exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, from Kepler’s first four years of data. It’s also the final catalog from the spacecraft’s view of the patch of sky in the Cygnus constellation.

With the release of this catalog, derived from data publicly available on the NASA Exoplanet Archive, there are now 4,034 planet candidates identified by Kepler. Of which, 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. Of roughly 50 near-Earth size habitable zone candidates detected by Kepler, more than 30 have been verified.

Additionally, results using Kepler data suggest two distinct size groupings of small planets. Both results have significant implications for the search for life. The final Kepler catalog will serve as the foundation for more study to determine the prevalence and demographics of planets in the galaxy, while the discovery of the two distinct planetary populations shows that about half the planets we know of in the galaxy either have no surface, or lie beneath a deep, crushing atmosphere – an environment unlikely to host life.

The findings were presented at a news conference Monday at NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

“The Kepler data set is unique, as it is the only one containing a population of these near Earth-analogs – planets with roughly the same size and orbit as Earth,” said Mario Perez, Kepler program scientist in the Astrophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Understanding their frequency in the galaxy will help inform the design of future NASA missions to directly image another Earth.”

The Kepler space telescope hunts for planets by detecting the minuscule drop in a star’s brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it, called a transit.

This is the eighth release of the Kepler candidate catalog, gathered by reprocessing the entire set of data from Kepler’s observations during the first four years of its primary mission. This data will enable scientists to determine what planetary populations – from rocky bodies the size of Earth, to gas giants the size of Jupiter – make up the galaxy’s planetary demographics.

To ensure a lot of planets weren't missed, the team introduced their own simulated planet transit signals into the data set and determined how many were correctly identified as planets. Then, they added data that appear to come from a planet, but were actually false signals, and checked how often the analysis mistook these for planet candidates. This work told them which types of planets were overcounted and which were undercounted by the Kepler team’s data processing methods.

“This carefully-measured catalog is the foundation for directly answering one of astronomy’s most compelling questions – how many planets like our Earth are in the galaxy?” said Susan Thompson, Kepler research scientist for the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, and lead author of the catalog study.

One research group took advantage of the Kepler data to make precise measurements of thousands of planets, revealing two distinct groups of small planets. The team found a clean division in the sizes of rocky, Earth-size planets and gaseous planets smaller than Neptune. Few planets were found between those groupings.

Using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, the group measured the sizes of 1,300 stars in the Kepler field of view to determine the radii of 2,000 Kepler planets with exquisite precision.

“We like to think of this study as classifying planets in the same way that biologists identify new species of animals,” said Benjamin Fulton, doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and lead author of the second study. “Finding two distinct groups of exoplanets is like discovering mammals and lizards make up distinct branches of a family tree.”

It seems that nature commonly makes rocky planets up to about 75 percent bigger than Earth. For reasons scientists don't yet understand, about half of those planets take on a small amount of hydrogen and helium that dramatically swells their size, allowing them to "jump the gap" and join the population closer to Neptune’s size.

The Kepler spacecraft continues to make observations in new patches of sky in its extended mission, searching for planets and studying a variety of interesting astronomical objects, from distant star clusters to objects such as the TRAPPIST-1 system of seven Earth-size planets, closer to home.

Ames manages the Kepler missions for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/kepler

-end-
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: hop on 06/19/2017 05:18 PM
Latest Kepler science conference is happening this week: https://keplerscience.arc.nasa.gov/scicon4/
Title: Re: NASA - Kepler updates
Post by: yg1968 on 06/20/2017 03:06 AM
Here is the briefing material of today's press conference:
https://www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/briefing-materials-final-kepler-survey-catalog-of-planet-candidates-in-the-cygnus-field

Here's the archived video of the press conference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uszaCL6KPHQ


Here is cool short video highlighting the announcements of today:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmV1D_nyYx4