Author Topic: NASA - Kepler updates  (Read 162203 times)

Online Robotbeat

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #100 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 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!
« Last Edit: 09/14/2011 01:40 AM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #101 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.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #102 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.
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Offline as58

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #103 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.

Offline Jason1701

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #104 on: 09/15/2011 06:16 PM »
Tatooine!

Offline TheFallen

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #105 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 :)

Online Robotbeat

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #106 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?
« Last Edit: 09/15/2011 07:15 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline TheFallen

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #107 on: 09/15/2011 07:46 PM »

Offline rdale

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #108 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

Online hop

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #109 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 ;)

Online Robotbeat

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #110 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:

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"♫♪
« Last Edit: 09/15/2011 08:55 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online hop

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #111 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

Offline John44

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Online hop

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #113 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.
« Last Edit: 09/15/2011 09:29 PM by hop »

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #114 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?
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #115 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).
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline racshot65

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #116 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

Offline racshot65

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #117 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

Online Chris Bergin

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #118 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

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #119 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. 
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

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