Kepler Mission Manager Update
December 23, 2009
Kepler continues to monitor the Cygnus-Lyrae region of the sky for Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of other stars. The Kepler Team successfully completed the third quarterly roll of the spacecraft and another monthly science data download over the Dec. 17-18 timeframe. All science data collected over the last month were successfully delivered to the Science Operations Center at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. About 110 Gigabytes of data was downloaded from last month’s observations. This roll of the spacecraft will position the spacecraft in its winter attitude. Kepler has now achieved observations in all four of its planned roll orientations. A roll maneuver is done four times annually, on a quarterly basis, to align the spacecraft’s solar panels toward the sun for the next season.
While operations and data analysis continue for the mission, engineers also continue to analyze data from the "Safe mode" event that occurred on Nov. 18, 2009. The team determined the cause of the Safe mode event was due to the interaction of invalid star tracker data and flight segment software. The team has implemented software mitigations to minimize a reoccurrence.
The Kepler team has submitted nearly 30 papers for peer-reviewed publication that cover both new science results as well as the many technical processes and procedures utilized to achieve them. Some members of the team will attend the American Astronomical Society Meeting in Washington, D.C. the first week of January 2010. A number of papers, and discoveries, will be presented at the conference.
The Kepler Guest Observer Office continues to prepare for the next round of annual community-led science proposals. Kepler provides the scientific community an opportunity to compete to perform non-exoplanet astrophysics research. The Kepler Team is thrilled to announce that nearly all restrictions on Kepler targets have been dropped for the next Guest Observer cycle. This will have a profound effect on the range and quality of non-exoplanet astrophysics performed with Kepler data. Guest Observers can propose for any target within the Kepler field of view, but are asked to note well the terms and conditions of the new policy. Full description of this policy is available within an amended NASA Research Announcement. You can follow the links to this from the Kepler Guest Observer website at http://keplergo.arc.nasa.gov