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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Kepler Space Telescope

Kepler Space Telescope 


     Kepler spacecraft / Kepler Space Telescope / K2 mission, is a space telescope launched by National Aeronautics Space Administration to discover earth seized exoplanets existing beyond solar system. This was managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a part of "Discovery Program" It was launched on March 2009, it has a instrument called "Photometer" which continually monitors the brightness and intensity of stars in the Milky way galaxy. It was also aimed to count the number of stars in the milky way galaxy and also to find the exoplanets lie in the habitable zone. Kepler mission was named after a famous astronomer Johannes Kepler. This spacecraft is contributing more in major discoveries like the Trappist-1 system and many other exoplanets discoveries. After its major discoveries, NASA released a catalogue on "exoplanet discovery".


     The spacecraft's total mass is about 1039 kilograms, major instruments were camera, mirror and photometer, the telescope used to orbit in earth's heliocentric orbit. The diameter of the primary mirror is 0.95 meter. Its primary mirror has soft focus technology that provides excellent photometry with a range from 20 ppm to 84 ppm brightness.

Launch and Orbital Insertion:

Kepler Mission launch on 7 March 2009
    Kepler mission started with the launch on 7 March 2009 at 03:49:57 UTC, carried by Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station located in Florida. It was injected into earth's heliocentric orbit on 7 April 2009, and the image taking process began on 8 April 2009. It completed its first mission phase on 13 May 2009.

Applications and Objectives:
  • determine the number of planets lie in the habitable zone beyond earth
  • determine the geometry of multiple planets in multiple-star system
  • determine the orbital period and luminosity of stars
  • determine the planetary systems and their members
  • determine the properties and systems of giant planets
Outcomes upto till date:

  1. 2009 - It determined 7,500 stars list from the milkyway galaxy
  2. 2010 - It discovered 400 exoplanets and released data on that candidates
  3. 2011 - It found 1235 planet candidates and 997 hot stars
    1.  68 exoplanets = earth seized planet
    2. 288 exoplanet  > earth
    3. 662 exoplanet = Neptune seized
    4. 165 exoplanet = Jupiter seized
    5. 19 exoplanet = 2 x Jupiter seized planets
    6. 54 exoplanets lie in the habitable zone out of 1235 exoplanets
  4. 2012 - It reached to a discovery of 2,321 exolanet candidates
    1. 207 = Earth seized planets
    2. 680 > Earth seized planets
    3. 1,181 = Neptune seized planets
    4. 203 = Jupiter seized planets
    5. 55 > Jupiter seized planets
    6. 48 = Lie in the habitable zone 
  5. 2013 - It discovered the existence of 400 billion exoplanets
  6. 2014 - It discovered a additional of 530 exoplanet candidates etc.. 
  7. 2015 - It discovered more than 1000 planets and 16000 stars
  8. 2016 - 1284 new exoplanets
Sister Mission:

     In November 2013, a sister mission called Kepler-2 the "Second Light" was presented for the extension of first mission. It would have renaming capability and more photometric precision than Kepler - 1 mission for the study of supernova explosions, star formations and solar-system bodies that include comets and asteroids.

Kepler Data Releases:

Graph of Kepler Discoveries

     Scientists planned to release the one year observation data, but this plan was terminated as they wished to release three year data on exoplanet candidates. This catalogue will include the discovery and naming of the planet, radial velocity and habitable planets.  Some of the confirmed exoplanets that lie in the habitable zone were listed below,
    • Kepler-62e
    • Kepler-62f
    • Kepler-186f
    • Kepler-296e
    • Kepler-296f
    • Kepler-438b
    • Kepler-440b
    • Kepler-442b

    Kepler space telescope contributed to the new world of exoplanet discoveries. It discovered more than thousands of exoplanets and habitable planets including planetray systems. It latest and major work known to be the discovery to Trappist-1 planetary system. NASA had already extended the mission upto 2018 and it will discover the undiscovered, it is expected that the list of exoplanet would cross billions.We dont know how big the universe is, so we can accurately say the number of stars and planets in our galaxy and universe. Human beings are very much interested to know the existence of life beyond solar system.

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