Mission News

Kepler Mission Manager Update
Jim Fanson by Jim Fanson, Kepler, JPL Project Manager

Kepler's "first light" image taken the day after cover release is now available to the public. The image shows a glittering array of millions of stars stretching across the field of view. Also in the field are star clusters, background galaxies beyond the Milky Way and three stars that are known to have "hot Jupiters" orbiting them. Kepler will observe these stars for an early confirmation of the planet detection capability of the analysis software to be used on all of Kepler's target stars.

Analysis of the images taken over the past several days shows that the telescope is well within the focus requirements levied on the instrument. The data were taken under stable temperature conditions and with the spacecraft in the highest pointing stability mode, called fine point. Engineers are now working with the science team to determine whether optimizing the focus further would provide a significant improvement in science return. If so, the 1.4-meter (55-inch) primary mirror assembly will be adjusted to fine-tune the alignment.