The Kepler Mission

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EarthlingX

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Astro_Robert":24rfxwod said:
I just had a silly thought:

1 of these Kepler planets might be named 'Bob', like the planet from the animated Titan AE movie.

Planet Bob, :lol:
Sounds nice and round, and if anyone asks me, i'll second this motion ;)
 
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ramparts

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Re: Initial list of 300+ Kepler Planets

Bear in mind two things:

1) These are still candidates! They've been released to the public mainly so that astronomers can do follow-up work, not to excite the public about potential new discoveries. They're rightly being cautious; an Earth would be a huge deal, and a hyped false positive would be disastrous for public relations. I haven't read the paper yet so I don't know what their estimates are on how many are likely to be something besides planets, but I'd imagine there's quite a few in there.

2) They kept 400 or so to themselves for a reason - those ones are the sexy ones! Some of the Kepler team members have been dedicating their careers to this, working on it for a decade or more, and obviously they'll want to be the ones to claim the big prize. If there is an Earth or something else very interesting in their new data, it's highly unlikely to be in this public release. So don't despair if what you're looking for isn't in here :)
 
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Wenderro

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Re: Initial list of 300+ Kepler Planets

thnkrx":38traha6 said:
Giving the list a looksee it seems like none of the candidate planets have an orbital period much over fifty days, with most checking in a well under half that. Lots and lots of 'big hot rocks'...but, this is with only a year or so of active observations.
The data is from the first 43 days only, that's why almost all are under 50days orbital period.
It will take several years until we gonna start seeing the first terrestrial planets in Goldilocks zone.
But the nice thing is that so far they found more planets than expected.
 
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EarthlingX

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news.discovery.com : Smaller Planets Rule the Galaxy
Analysis by Ray Villard
Fri Jun 25, 2010 07:10 PM ET

Like Indiana Jones opening a new vault of buried treasure, the much-awaited first year treasure trove of NASA Kepler space telescope observations of distant planets went public last week.

Or at least some of the data have, as reported by Nicole Gugliucci regarding the dilemma of long-sought exoplanet detections being released to everyone after a one-year propriety period.
Kepler is opening a completely new vault: collecting a survey sample of small planets that transit their stars. The Kepler results show that there are lots and lots of smaller worlds, ranging in mass from the size of Neptune down to “super-Earths” which are just a few Earth masses.
The bottom line is that smaller planets are more numerous than big planets. This bodes well for finding habitats for extraterrestrial life as we know it. It is also encouraging that candidate Earth and super-Earths should, statistically, be abundant in our solar neighborhood.
 
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nimbus

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Re: Initial list of 300+ Kepler Planets

Couldn't find the main Kepler mission thread (pretty sure there is one, IIRC started by Dragon04). A neat illustration of the search volume of the Kepler probe:


edit- That thread's probably in the Missions forum doh!
 
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nec208

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Prospect of life in deep space as Nasa probe finds hundreds

Prospect of life in deep space as Nasa probe finds hundreds of new planets

Hundreds of new planets have been discovered by Nasa's new space probe, sparking new hope of life outside our solar system.

Up to 140 of the newly-found planets are rocky and Earth-like containing both land and water, conditions which could allow simple lifeforms to develop.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... anets.html
 
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MeteorWayne

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Re: Prospect of life in deep space as Nasa probe finds hundreds

This really belongs in The Kepler thread, as it is news from a few weeks ago....

Also the conclusions suggested in the article are premature and not verified.
 
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paulscottanderson

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Kepler Co-Investigator Spills The Beans: Lots of Earth-like Planets (July 25, 2010):

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1415

Here is the link to the talk given by Dimitar Sasselovat at TEDGlobal in Oxford this month. He is a co-investigator for the Kepler mission. There had been some overly sensationalistic sounding media headlines the last few days... just to note, these 140+ "Earth-like" planets found so far still need to be confirmed, as he says, and they are Earth-like simply in terms of size, which is itself exciting of course. But the statistical graphs he presented shows that these smaller planets appear to be much more common than larger gas giants. And this is all just from the first batch of data still. Now the question is how many of these and others may be similar to Earth in other ways as well?

http://www.ted.com/talks/dimitar_sassel ... anets.html
 
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EarthlingX

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Re: Prospect of life in deep space as Nasa probe finds hundreds

MeteorWayne":36i72rwh said:
This really belongs in The Kepler thread, as it is news from a few weeks ago....

Also the conclusions suggested in the article are premature and not verified.
About conclusions in that article and a couple of other in the media :

http://www.spaceref.com : Kepler Co-Investigator Spills The Beans: Lots of Earth-like Planets
Keith Cowing

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Reader note: "These articles were sparked by a talk that was given by Harvard's Dimitar Sasselov at TEDGlobal at Oxford this month. It was posted to the TED site last week and picked up by various sites: link. The smoking gun is the slide in the background at about 8:15 in the talk."
Keith's note: Here is the slides - plus another. Now I see where the story had is origin - so Fox and the other papers are off the hook - although they did manage to scramble things a bit. I think Sasselov's use of English is at fault here. Also, my original comments about the Kepler team's PR skills have been underscored by this fumbled release of stunning news.
Here is what Sasselov said (transcript reflects his less than perfect use of English): "What the new telescope Kepler has been able to tell us in the past few weeks - and lo and behold - we are back to the harmony and to fulfilling the dreams of Copernicus. You can see here [Chart] - small planets dominate the picture. The planets which are marked "like Earth" - definitely more than any of the other planets that we see. Now for the first time we can say that. There is a lot more work we need to do with this. Most of these are candidates and in the next few years - we will confirm them - but the statistical result is loud and clear - and the statistical result is that planets like our own Earth are out there. [Chart] Our Milky Way galaxy is rich in this kind of planet. So the question is what do we do next? Well we can study them now. We know where they are. And we can find those that we call "habitable" meaning that they have similar conditions to what experience here on Earth and where a lot of complex chemistry can happen ..."
Keith's original note: Looks like Fox News, The Australian, and the Daily Mail have jumped the gun again. To read their headlines and their short stories, you'd think that a bunch of Earthlike planets have been confirmed circling other stars with "both land and water" - and that this is how NASA has been characterizing the Kepler results. Alas this is not what NASA has been saying - at least not publicly.
Kepler thread, link to post with the original paper :

SDC : The Kepler Mission
 
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MeteorWayne

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Re: Prospect of life in deep space as Nasa probe finds hundreds

thanx for the followup EX.

I am going to merge this into the Kepler thread in M&L later today.
 
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xXTheOneRavenXx

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Re: Prospect of life in deep space as Nasa probe finds hundreds

So in other words, nothing has been confirmed yet. Just the news media once again taking a person words out of context. Haven't they learned anything about what happens when you jump the gun on these issues? If their wanting an early release of information, why not interview the guy, and quote that individual verbatem to ensure they catch the meaning of what he/she is really trying to say.
 
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qzzq

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Kepler detects '140 earthlike planets' in a matter of months

http://news.discovery.com/space/kepler- ... anets.html
In a recent presentation, Kepler co-investigator Dimitar Sasselov preempted the official announcement that the exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope has discovered about 140 candidate worlds orbiting other stars that are "like Earth."

Usually, announcements like these happen after an official press release, but during the TEDGLobal conference in Oxford, U.K., Sasselov unexpectedly dropped the groundbreaking news in one of his presentation slides.


http://www.ted.com/talks/dimitar_sassel ... anets.html
 
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origin

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Re: Kepler detects '140 earthlike planets' in a matter of months

qzzq":2buaqx9u said:
http://news.discovery.com/space/kepler-scientist-galaxy-is-rich-in-earth-like-planets.html
In a recent presentation, Kepler co-investigator Dimitar Sasselov preempted the official announcement that the exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope has discovered about 140 candidate worlds orbiting other stars that are "like Earth."

Usually, announcements like these happen after an official press release, but during the TEDGLobal conference in Oxford, U.K., Sasselov unexpectedly dropped the groundbreaking news in one of his presentation slides.


http://www.ted.com/talks/dimitar_sassel ... anets.html
Or in a less sensational frame: 140 possible rocky planets. Still very cool....
 
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EarthlingX

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Dimitar Sasselov: How we found hundreds of Earth-like planets
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8bM8K7W_R8[/youtube]
 
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MeteorWayne

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Re: Kepler detects '140 earthlike planets' in a matter of months

This will be merged into the existing in the Kepler thread in Missions and Launches.
 
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qzzq

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Re: Kepler detects '140 earthlike planets' in a matter of months

Sorry Wayne, I should have checked!
 
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MeteorWayne

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Re: Kepler detects '140 earthlike planets' in a matter of months

No problem, you haven't been around much lately. Good to see you again.

My though is (much) later on when the journal articles of the analysis start to appear, then a thread would be appropriate here in SS&A....until then, it's all raw unverified data :)

Wayne
 
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Astro_Robert

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Just an update regarding all this talk of 'Earth-like'.

As one can read in the two statements below from the Kepler site, these are not 'Earth-like' planets as opposed to 'Earth-sized' planets. Most of them are in tight fast orbits about their parent stars. It is exciting to think that small rocky planets may be common, but these are not 'Earth-like' or habitable.

I realize most of the more knowledgeable posters on the board understand this, but since I saw the posts on the main Kepler website I thought I would reproduce them here:

http://kepler.nasa.gov/news/nasakeplernews/


Earth-size is not Earth-like: the TED Talk by Dimitar Sasselov
07.27.2010
[For Dimitar's full statement, see the Kepler blog, July 28, 2010 entry.]
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 are 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.


Statement from the Kepler Science Council
08.02.2010
KEPLER SCIENCE STATUS: STATEMENT TO AMES CENTER DIRECTOR
The following NASA statement was sent to Dr. S. Pete Worden, Director, NASA Ames Research Center from the Kepler Science Council on Aug. 2, 2010.
“Recently there have been reports to the effect that Kepler has discovered many Earth-like planets. This is not the case. Analysis of the current Kepler data does not support the assertion that Kepler has found any Earth-like planets.
Kepler is producing excellent results and is on a path to achieving all its mission requirements and actually determining the frequency of Earth-size planets, especially in habitable zones. We will announce our results when they become available and are confirmed.”

Signed,
Edward W. Dunham, Kepler Science Team Lead
Thomas N. Gautier, Kepler Project Scientist
William J. Borucki, Kepler Principal Investigator
for the Kepler Science Council
 
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MeteorWayne

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Thanx for the updated statements. That was clearly expressed here almost immediately, but since the MSM (Mainstream Media) doesn't know squat about science, they turned it into a steaming pile of....s..such inaccurate conclusions. ;)
 
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Yuri_Armstrong

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For now, I'm just happy to see they're looking for earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of stars. It will take years before we can actually determine whether they are "earth like", but it's steps such as these that will help us locate earth like planets in the future.
 
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BuzzLY

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I have a few questions about the 43 days of data. First, I understand that this data only has candidate planets with an orbit out to about 1/2 of Mercury's; and I understand why. This is the same set of data the 5 planets announced last January came from. I also understand that the 43 days of data goes from the initiation of science operations to the first quarterly rotation. I've heard that they are still writing the software that will "stitch" this data together with data from subsequent quarterly data sets (since after a rotation each star hits on a new location on the CCDs). My questions are:

Is there an unreported and unexpected problem in writing this software, since the first rotation occured 14 months ago, and they have yet to bridge that gap?

Can they analyze the next full data set of approximately 90 days independantly of the first 43-day set to look for planets out a bit further (still not habitable)?

Does each quarterly rotation require a different piece of software to stitch new data together with the previous period, and if so, are they working on bridging more than one gap at a time?
 
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alpha_centauri

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According to Kepler's official twitterpage,

The current tally: 429 of our stars have been observed at least once by our follow-up team. Phew! That's a lot of telescope time! Go team!
 
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Astro_Robert

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BuzzLY, did you come all this way from infinity and beyond? :lol:

I am not a software engineer, but I will try to answer your questions.

I am not certain that the lack of more releases implies a problem with this software to adjust for rotation of the spacecraft. However, the Kepler team did report a problem on one of the sensors, which is now rotating with the spacecraft to cover different fields of view. If the Kepler science team allows for a similar period to ellapse between each release, then they would release 1 quarter's worth of data every quarter. The last release was ~ 6/13/10. They next release won't be overdue then for another month.

Although they could physically look at the data sets independently, that would cause a lot of duplication, and would severely limit the hunt for planets with longer orbital periods. The premise of the mission can only really be addressed by stitching the observing periods together and appreciating the long term view.

I would think that once they verify and validate a software adjustment for one rotation, then the next couple of rotations would be transformations off of the first one until the spacecraft was in its initial orientation again and they could re-use the developed pieces of software as-is for future rotations. Due to the asymetrical orientation of the individual sensors they probably do need 4 software stitches rather than simply using one over and over again.

Period 1 - Orientation 1
Period 2 - Orientation 2 - Stitch 1
Period 3 - Orientation 3 - Stitch 2
Period 4 - Orientation 4 - Stitch 3
Period 5 - Orientation 1 - Stitch 4
Period 6 - Orientation 2 - Stitch 1

I am nost certain that is how it works, but that is my best guess.
 
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