The Kepler Mission

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kk434

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The Kepler mission is the last "mohican" of then NASA origins program. After the cancellation of TPF and SIM all hopes are pinned to Kepler. If this mission finds a lot of terrestial planets there is still hope that a dedicated exo planet mission will launch. If Keplet turns up empty handed, than Exo planet science will suffer a crippling blow.
 
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MeteorWayne

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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

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

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/au ... lecon.html
 
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3488

Guest
WOW sounds interesting Wayne.

Intruiging Planetary System!!!! Like the sound of that. :mrgreen:

Andrew Brown.
 
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3488

Guest
I really hope so Wayne, after all that is the main point of Kepler, or at least a collection of small worlds bunched in a region between the equivalent of Mercury & Mars in our own solar system around a G or K type Main Sequence star.

If an 'Earthlike' world has turned up, what a gigantic find, it could be like Venus (Kepler will not be able to tell us of course), but the fact a planet roughly the 'size' of Earth may have been detected, will be huge advance.

Looking forward to the release. Fascinating stuff. :mrgreen:

Andrew Brown.
 
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mark_d_s

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You need three orbits to essentially 'verify' a planet. Yet Kepler hasn't been observing long enough to detect Earth like planets around sun like stars. So this surely means it's seen a planet of approximately Earth like mass near a smaller, cooler, star; or maybe a gas giant, which presumably has moons.

Either way, it's intriguing...
 
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alpha_centauri

Guest
I agree, even if they have seen a transit of an earth-sized planet with potentially earth-like orbit, they aren't going to announce such a thing before they have enough transits to be sure, so it'd have to be around an M/K type.

The moons thing is an interesting one, I remember reading a recent paper showing it was a distinct possibility with Kepler.
 
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kk434

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The 1 year findings where not "earth shakeing", is there still hope to find something earth like in about 1 AU orbit?
 
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junkheap

Guest
1 year isn't enough time to verify that. In that time any Earth-like planets in the habitable zone would have only made one transit and you wouldn't have enough information to verify how long the orbitable period is yet.

Right now they can only verify the "speedy" planets.

We'll just have to be patient. :(
 
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MeteorWayne

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kk434":2pi2jkx2 said:
The 1 year findings where not "earth shakeing", is there still hope to find something earth like in about 1 AU orbit?
Yes, after 3 years; since you need 3 transits to confirm the existance of a planet.

In this case, there were over a dozen transits observed, so the data was very robust.
 
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3488

Guest
Still a great find though.

This mission is not for those who expect quick results.

Summary.
Two Planets closely orbiting a Sun like star Kepler 9, approx 2,200 light years away from our solar system in Lyra.

Kepler 9 b.
19.2 days at a distance of 20.9 million kilometres. 0.25 Jupiter mass / 0.83 Saturn mass or 79 Earth Masses.

Kepler 9 c.
38.9 days at a distance of 33.8 million kilometres. 0.17 Jupiter mass / 0.57 Saturn mass or 54 Earth Masses.

Transiting shadow depths suggests gas giants orbiting very close in, Kepler 9 b closer in than the hypothesized vulcanoid asteroids that the Mercury bound MESSENGER spacecraft has been searching for. Both planets are closer in than Mercury is to our own Sun, two gas giants, very close to one another & very close to their parent Sun.

There are indications of a Kepler 9 d, a small 1.5 Earth sized innermost planet only 4 million kilometres orbiting once every 1.6 days. If real, this planet is likely to be synchronously locked to the star, i.e keeps the same face turned towards its looming Sun & the day side IMO would be covered in lava.

Article on Astronomy Now.

Quite a find, worth waiting for.

Perhaps the motion of the outermost planet may reveal others further out.

Andrew Brown.
 
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AdmiralRitt

Guest
Hmm, sounds like the competition from other planet finders is affecting the Kepler PR strategy.

Yes it's an interesting find. And it shows vividly where a terretrial can survive, when the Jovians are close

But the beating of the dead horse that was the traditional planetary formation theory continues.

As I see it, if the requirement for a semi-duplicate solar system are:

1) Formation of Star and planetary disk.

2) the explosion of a powerful supernova within light months of said duplicate

3) which at the RIGHT TIME clears, or kicks out most of the remaining nebula leaving proto-planets.

4) which start colliding and settle down to orbits with very modest eccentricity.

Then It may mean that out of that 1,000-2,000 net systems Kepler, can detect , we will only need two
hands to count the systems that are like ours. I would not be disapointed because it would confirm
the RARE EARTH hypothesis albeit for differing reasons. And as a byproduct make me feel a little safer :?
 
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kk434

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Talk about the rare earth hypotesis, I think that we now have enough exo planet data to start guessing that it is true.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Not at all. As has been repeatedly stated, it will take years for Kepler to find an earth like planet in an earth like orbit.
 
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paulscottanderson

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kk434":3f0oqqob said:
Talk about the rare earth hypotesis, I think that we now have enough exo planet data to start guessing that it is true.
It's way too early to say that I think. More time is still needed to confirm smaller planets in larger orbits, including in habitable zones. Plus, the early results so far, as stated by the Kepler team, appear to show that smaller rocky worlds are more common than larger gas giants. Again, more time needed to confirm this, but that is the trend so far. True Earth-like worlds may indeed be rare, we don't know yet, but Earth-sized worlds at least are probably common.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
CommonMan":2mexmq49 said:
Thank you EarthlingX, You will make a good Mod some day.
Thank you for your confidence, but i have a lot of work on my temper before that happens, if ever ;)
 
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jumpjack2

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Is Kepler able to find also exo-satellites, i.e. satellites of giant planets? Jupiter has moons as big as little planets, so exoplanets several times bigger than Jupiter could (should?) have satellites as big as Earth or more!
 
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alpha_centauri

Guest
Potentially, here's one paper I've seen on it,

http://arxiv.org/abs/0907.3909/
On the detectability of habitable exomoons with Kepler-class photometry

In this paper we investigate the detectability of a habitable-zone exomoon around various configurations of exoplanetary systems with the Kepler Mission or photometry of approximately equal quality.

.............

We find that habitable-zone exomoons down to 0.2 Earth masses may be detected and ~25,000 stars could be surveyed for habitable-zone exomoons within Kepler's field-of-view.
And that team have already started analysing Kepler's early data looking for this,

http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/1006.5680
Analysis of Kepler's short-cadence photometry for TrES-2b
(FYI, Kepler has two modes of staring, long and short-cadence. Short cadence gives a much higher "resolution" which is useful for a number of studies, but early on by far the majority of stars are observed in long cadence)
 
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AdmiralRitt

Guest
Moons around jovian class exo-planets are an exciting posibility for habitabilty.

But are they candidates for near-twin earths? It's unlikely. The tide locking is a big pain.
Let us restrict ourselves to Jovian class moons in the habitable zone of a star sytem.
Drawing from our sample (limited admittedly) solar system, and a little bit of orbital mechanics, & common sense.
We can see that it takes a massive world to retain satellites capable of retaining atmospheres.

Triton does not count as it is a captured moon.
(a capture scenario would be unlikely as the interaction of the Primary & Jovian planet and potential moon
would probably result in Destruction or Ejection, as is the case for the vast majority of 3 body gravity mechanics)

the shorter orbital periods are nifty to reduce atmospheric turbulence due to temperature dirferentials but they are accompanied by massive tidal heating of a moon's crust. If Europa had a solid crust you can bet there would be
active vulcanism. Assuming your large terrestrial class moon generated internal heat too, that would be an unstable
crust indeed.

A longer orbital period such as Ganymede of 7.1 days creates alot atmospheric havoc. Although waterworld moons would probably be far more docile in comparison. There Instead of 700km winds maybe speeds closer to Typhoon class winds would be the norm. but watch out for those 100 to 200 foot tides.

We havent touched upon the effects of a jovians radiation belt upon it's satellites. With a substantial atmophere this should have a limited impact. But how long would an atmosphere last if pelted by strong radiation. Not 5 billion years.

and lastly unless it's a mature system, commetary and asteroid debris is likely to be a constant threat as that
big gravity sink in your night sky draws them into the neighborhood

Conclusion: A reasonably habitable moon might exist if they orbited Neptune sized planets.
this would allow less tidal heating and a shorter orbital period., However Neptune classs planets that have
near-terrestrial sized Moons are probably very rare.
 
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Astro_Robert

Guest
Since its been 3 monhts since the last data release, I thought I would bump this thread as we await the next release.

I also note that on the Kepler page, they have now updated the graphic to display the locations of the 7 confirmed planets, whereas for the psat couple of weeks, it read a count of 7 but only displayed 5 on the graphic of the field of view.

Hopefully, we will get the next quarter of observations soon.
 
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