The project had an exciting close to the 2011 calendar year. A very successful Kepler Science Conference was held Dec. 5-9, 2011 at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. The conference attracted a worldwide who's-who of more than 500 people, including scientists, educators, media and the public with an additional 200 participants joining the live broadcast. Participants heard 91 talks and viewed 114 posters at the conference highlighting Kepler data, information, and discoveries. Recordings of the talks are linked to the titles in the Schedule of Oral Presentations section on the conference website.
During the conference, the team announced Kepler-22b, the mission's first confirmed habitable zone planet. Later in the month, we also announced Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, the first Earth-size planets discovered around a sun-like star. These announcements portend a momentous year for Kepler in 2012.
We began 2012 with a quarterly roll of the Kepler spacecraft for the winter season. The operation was successfully conducted Jan. 4-5. The spacecraft was rolled 90-degrees from its fall position to ensure proper solar array alignment for this year's winter season. During the contact with the spacecraft, we also downloaded another month of science data, to complete Quarter 11 science data collection. This quarterly roll marks the final winter quarterly roll for Kepler for the baseline mission.
The project team also completed software development for another update to the ground software pipeline that processes the science data collected by Kepler. This software release, known as SOC 8.1, entered its verification and validation phase in early January and provides additional improvements to the Kepler Science Operations Center (SOC) pipeline. The SOC 8.1 release will improve the Presearch Data Conditioning (PDC) algorithms, enhance the Transiting Planet Search (TPS) and Data Validation algorithms, improve the data archiving products, and improve the data storage performance to handle increasingly large volume of data.
Many science team members will be attending the 219th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Jan. 8-12, 2012 in Austin Texas, where a number of Kepler science papers and posters will be presented. We also anticipate more Kepler discoveries to be announced at this AAS meeting. Follow the news in real-time on Twitter at @NASAKepler and @AAS_Press, hashtag #AAS219.