Author Topic: NASA - Kepler updates  (Read 162612 times)

Offline racshot65

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2580
  • Aaron Kalair
  • Coventry, England
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #160 on: 03/26/2012 02:19 PM »

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #161 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.....
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #162 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? 
« Last Edit: 04/05/2012 01:46 PM by Bubbinski »
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline robertross

  • Canadian Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 17772
  • Westphal, Nova Scotia
  • Liked: 440
  • Likes Given: 3279
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #163 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.
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline as58

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 728
  • Liked: 242
  • Likes Given: 164
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #164 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

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 26901
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6799
  • Likes Given: 4818
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #165 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.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline as58

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 728
  • Liked: 242
  • Likes Given: 164
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #166 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.

Offline veblen

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 253
  • Liked: 27
  • Likes Given: 1369
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #167 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.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 26901
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6799
  • Likes Given: 4818
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #168 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.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline epistefiend

  • Member
  • Posts: 9
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #169 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.

Online Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 26901
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6799
  • Likes Given: 4818
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #170 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.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline iamlucky13

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1660
  • Liked: 102
  • Likes Given: 92
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #171 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.

Offline racshot65

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2580
  • Aaron Kalair
  • Coventry, England
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #172 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

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #173 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.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #174 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.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #175 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.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Alpha_Centauri

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 543
  • England
  • Liked: 162
  • Likes Given: 110
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #176 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.
« Last Edit: 06/13/2012 08:27 AM by Alpha_Centauri »

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #177 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.
« Last Edit: 06/13/2012 04:30 AM by Bubbinski »
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Bubbinski

Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #178 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. 
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline mduncan36

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 215
  • Liked: 1
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #179 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.

Tags: updates