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Kepler Mission Manager Update
12.06.10
 
Dec. 06, 2010

The Kepler project team successfully completed another science data download Nov. 22-23, 2010. This download of science data from the Kepler spacecraft marked the completion of Quarter 7, Month 2 data collection. All spacecraft commanding was accomplished without incident, as operations have been nominal for several months. As the operation concluded, the team turned its attention to prepare for the upcoming quarterly roll of the spacecraft for the winter season. This operation is planned for Dec. 21-23, 2010, and will be accompanied by another download of science data from Quarter 7, Month 3.

The 2010 ground-based observing season is completed for the Kepler Mission. Next year’s ground-based observing season will begin in spring 2011. The Kepler Follow-up Observation Team is now devoting its energy to examining planetary candidates to eliminate false positives and refine the candidate list based on currently available data. The refined list will be published in a major paper about Kepler planet candidates in conjunction with the release of Quarter 2 of the Kepler data in February 2011. The February 2011 release will also contain quarters 0-2 for the 400 planetary candidates withheld from the June 2010 data release.

The Kepler project is moving the next data release date (originally planned for June 2011) forward to Feb. 1, 2011. The Quarter 2 data set is the first consisting of a complete three months of observations. It will contain light curves for approximately 165,000 stars (most of which are late-type Main Sequence stars) brighter than 16th magnitude in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations sampled at a 30-minute cadence. Three subsets of one-month each of 512 stars were sampled at a one-minute cadence. The shorter cadence data will be released on the same schedule.

The new release will augment the Quarter 0 and Quarter 1 data that were released mid-2010. Quarter 0 data is a unique set of approximately 10 days of data taken during commissioning of approximately 53,000 stars of varying spectral types. Quarter 1 data consisted of 33 days of data of approximately 150,000 stars taken between the end of commissioning and the first quarterly roll. The motivation for the early data release is to better support the 2011 NASA Astrophysics Data Analysis Program (ADAP), a funding opportunity that supports the analysis and interpretation of data in the public archives. By tripling the volume of Kepler data in the public archive, we hope to increase research opportunities that might be captured under the ADAP umbrella.

The project will hold a splinter session at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting Jan. 9-13, 2011 in Seattle to inform potential users how to make use of the archive.

Further information about Kepler can be found at http://kepler.nasa.gov/

The data will be made available through MAST at http://archive.stsci.edu/kepler/

Meanwhile, the Kepler science team has held several working group meetings in the past month. The team has been busy with its analysis of data, and is drafting several research papers for publication and/or presentation at upcoming venues. Many science team members will attend the AAS meeting in Seattle in early January where several sessions will be dedicated to Kepler science activities.

At intervals, NASA selects funded proposals for the Kepler Participating Scientists Program (PSP). The Kepler PSP is designed to augment the skill set of the Kepler science team, thereby enabling it to more effectively execute the mission’s science program. Participating scientists serve as members of the Kepler science team and participate in science team activities, such as data processing and analysis, transit candidate follow-up and characterization, and publication. The next deadline for cycle 2 PSP proposals, open to all candidates, is Feb. 11, 2011. Proposal instructions and element details are provided at http://keplerscience.arc.nasa.gov/PSP.shtml.