Issue 15 - May 2015

Kepler Mission
Kepler-K2 Update
Charlie Sobeck, Mission Manager
Excerpted from Mission Manager update

From Feb. 7 to April 24, the fourth campaign of the K2 mission will include observations of nearly 16,000 target stars and two notable open star clusters—Pleiades and Hyades.

Now in its fifth observing campaign, the Kepler spacecraft continues to operate wonderfully since beginning its new K2 mission in May 2014. Data collected for Campaigns 0, 1 and 2 have been made available to the public through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). Campaign 3 data will be processed with a scheduled delivery to MAST in June 2015.

K2 finished its fourth campaign at the end of April and is now executing campaign 5. The Campaign 4 target set includes nearly 16,000 target stars, which can be searched for exoplanets and examined for an array of astrophysical phenomena. This field includes two notable open star clusters—Pleiades and Hyades, the nearest open cluster to our solar system. Both are located in the constellation of Taurus.

As expected, the team continues to make improvements in the spacecraft’s K2 operations, improving the pointing performance, conserving fuel, extending the observation periods and increasing the number of observed targets. The team currently estimates that the onboard fuel should last until at least December 2017.