Author Topic: NASA - Kepler updates  (Read 162156 times)

Offline Chandonn

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #80 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)
« Last Edit: 02/03/2011 03:59 PM by Chandonn »

Online ugordan

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #81 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?

Offline hop

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #82 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.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #83 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!
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Offline copernicus

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #84 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/



Offline bbliss

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #85 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, NASAís 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.)
« Last Edit: 02/10/2011 12:30 AM by bbliss »

Offline robertross

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #86 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 SIBís 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
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Online Malderi

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #87 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?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #88 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.
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Offline hop

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #89 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.

Online Malderi

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #90 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.

Offline corrodedNut

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #91 on: 04/01/2011 01:49 AM »
You guys seen this composite photo yet? Pretty cool:

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

Offline robertross

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #92 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!
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Offline robertross

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #93 on: 04/03/2011 04:25 PM »
NASAís 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
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Offline racshot65

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #94 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. Thatís equivalent to the wattage of the typical household coffee maker.

...

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/news/keplerm-20110811.html

Offline racshot65

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #95 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

Offline racshot65

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #96 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

Offline racshot65

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #97 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
« Last Edit: 09/11/2011 02:45 PM by racshot65 »

Offline jacqmans

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #98 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-


Offline hyper_snyper

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Re: NASA - Kepler updates
« Reply #99 on: 09/14/2011 12:45 AM »
I'm guessing ILM did a visualization of this discovery?  I wonder what this is about.

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