By Nick Gautier
As Kepler begins it extended mission on 1 October 2012, the rate of public data release will ramp up. On 28 July, Kepler released quarter 7 thru quarter 9 data to the MAST archives. On 28 Oct 2012, the final proprietary exoplanet survey data will be released to the public. Subsequently all exoplanet survey data will be released to the public immediately upon completion of pipeline processing and verification. Science data for quarter 13 has been downloaded and processing of quarter 13 will commence in September.
One of Kepler’s 4 reaction wheels used for pointing control failed in mid July. The spacecraft was quickly configured to operate on 3 reaction wheels and science operations started up again. Spacecraft performance is good on 3 wheels and exoplanet survey observations are continuing. A detailed analysis is on-going as to the exact cause of the wheel failure and plans are being made to help mitigate future reaction wheel damage and failure.
The confirmed planet count for Kepler stands at 118 as of September 14. During the past month, a number of exoplanet confirmations were published and even more submitted (see below). Kepler-30 is of particular note as its host star is similar to our Sun. Kepler-30, with its three planets, shows a very coplanar solar system similar to ours.
The Kepler team received the “Vision to Reality” award from the Space Frontier Foundation on 28 July. Mission Principle Investigator, William Borucki, was on hand to accept the award for the team. The award praises the Kepler mission for its “outstanding achievement in the development and operation of a device, system or entity that helps open the space frontier.
Recent publications a submission of Kepler planets:
The Neptune-Sized Circumbinary Planet Kepler-38b
Orosz et al., accepted by the Astrophysical Journal
Transit Timing Observations from Kepler: VII. Confirmation of 27 planets in 13 multiplanet systems via Transit Timing Variations and orbital stability
Steffen et al., submitted to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Transit Timing Variation of Near-Resonant KOI Pairs: Confirmation of 12 Multiple Planet Systems
Ji-Wei Xie et al., submitted to the Astrophysical Journal
A NASA feature describing the papers submitted (presenting 41 TTV planets) by Steffen et al. and Xie et al. was posted (8/22/2012) at:
Kepler-47: A Transiting Circumbinary Multi-Planet System
Orosz et al., accepted by Science Magazine
appeared in Science Express on August 28th
press event at IAU General Assembly in Beijing, August 2012
NASA press release (8/28/2012) at: