On 14 November 2012, Kepler marked two milestones in the search for planets like Earth: the successful completion of the Kepler Space Telescope's 3.5- year prime mission, and the beginning of Kepler's extended mission that could last as long as four years.
During a scheduled contact with Kepler on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, engineers discovered that the spacecraft, although at science attitude, was not in fine-point. While implementing procedures to return the spacecraft to this precision-pointing mode, on-board fault protection detected a larger pointing error and placed the spacecraft in safe mode. The safe mode was likely due to the local space environment. Data suggest that particulates moving through the star trackers’ fields of view corrupted the spacecraft's attitude solution– its orientation relative to the guide stars. The spacecraft was returned to science data collection and, as of December 7, is operating well with no issues to any on-board hardware reported.
13 astrophysics and 12 exoplanet papers related to Kepler observations are currently in press. The numbers of submitted papers continues to increase, and the complete list can be seen on the Kepler website (under the "SCIENCE" tab).
The confirmed planet count for Kepler stands at 120 as of December 7. This includes 105 listed on the Kepler web site, 14 confirmations in multiple systems (paper awaiting acceptance) and 1 circumbinary planet found by Planet Hunters (paper awaiting acceptance).
A call for proposals to Cycle 3 of the Kepler Participating Scientist Program was issued on November 30, 2012 as Appendix D.13 to ROSES 2012.