Kepler, a NASA Strategic mission launched into an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit on March 6, 2009, is designed to stare at a 105 square degree region of the sky in the constellations of Cygnus and Lyra.The mission's goal is to obtain long-term, unfiltered, and precise light curves of up to 100,000 cool stars and search for periodic transits of planets as small as the Earth.http://archive.stsci.edu/kepler/http://kepler.nasa.gov/Science/Media Telecon Slides http://kepler.nasa.gov/files/mws/Kepler_JackL_Feb1_FINAL.pptThe findings increase the number of planet candidatesidentified by Kepler to-date to 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximatelyEarth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 arethe size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter.
What it’s giving us is a statistical sample of stars in a particular part of the Milky Way, one we can use to extrapolate planetary populations throughout the galaxy.
Note that the fact we see so many very close to their stars may be an artifact of the way we are looking. It is much easier to notice close in planets transiting their primary.
Project Kepler• What is Kepler? – Earth trailing heliocentric observation package – Examining 105 sq degree region of space about 3000 ly away • Examining up to 100,000 stars searching for planets as small as Earth • Determination of detailed composition of planet hosting stars – Craft films with 42 CCDs for a month at a time • One day break per month to reorient toward earth and download • 3 year life • Only been in operation for 136 days
Kepler-11• Six proven planets found in a single system – Before we only new of only 3 exoplanets smaller than neptune – Now added 5 more in one system! • Most are packed closer to primary than average orbital distance of Mercury • These are 2.3 – 13.5 times earth mass • Sixth planet is about as far out as Venus in our system. Insufficient data on its mass yet • It is likely that some of these planets spiraled in from looser orbits • Very convenient system for perfecting some exoplanet observation tecniques
Kepler’s Latest Releases• Results – 68 Earth-size exoplanets with a radius (Rp) of less than 1.25 Earth radius (Re) – 288 super-Earth size exoplanets with 1.25 x Re <Rp ≤ 2.0 x Re – 662 Neptune-size exoplanets with 2.0 x Re <Rp ≤ 6.0 x Re – 165 Jupiter-size exoplanets with 6.0 x Re <Rp ≤ 15 x Re – 19 very-large-size with 15.0 x Re <Rp ≤ 22 x Re• Between 80 and 90% of these are likely to be real planets
Looking for Earth Analogs• Currently filtering for cooler stars with tight planetary orbits• Takes more than one orbit to establish an exoplanet – So no earth range results for over a year• Ratio of earth like worlds will come out of Kepler over the next year or two – Capable of even resolving moons around some exo-planets
Bigelow Aerospace Expansion• Ramping up staff 11x to 1300 people – 185000 sq ft plant expansion – Habitats for moon, Mars, beyond.. – Three spacecraft and production lines – New plant open one year from now
2011 Space Conference Highlights• Boeing – CST 100 reuseable space capsule• Firestar Corporation – NOFBX environmentally benign propellant • Specific impulse 320 seconds – Could replace solid propellants• Bigelow Aerospace – Keynote: Moon/Mars: China’s Prospects for Owership • Argued China may ignore 1967 Space Treaty• Armadillo Aerospace – SuperMod (lunar landing vehicle) for CRuSR program – Sold Pixel to NASA – Devloping Super-Quad, LOX-Methane, 48” tanks fon NASA – Tube Vehicle – samed STIG – OTRAG-like clusters up to 500 km – 3 stage clusters could reach orbit – SOST suborbital space transport
2011 Space Conference Highlights• Masten Space Systems – Flying cargo rather than people – Fluid and frequent launch operations – Xaero project • Composite shell • Deployable gear • Active aerodynamic controls • Supersonic flight• XCOR – Lynx overview • Goal is high flight rate – reusability, low maintenance • Engine tests underway • Thrusters with non-toxic proprietary fuel – Markets tourism, research payloads, small satellites
Skylon Space Plane• Reaction Engines Limited – Unpiloted spaceplane – Air breathing jet engine (hydrogen burner) • Switches to LOX at 26 km to get to orbit – Fleet of hundreds planned, each reuseable 200 times – Program cost - $12 billion – 82 m by 6.3 m
Humans Beyond LEO• By end of decade – Using EELVs (evolved expendable launch vehicles)• Missions to establish earth-moon Lagrange habitats – Expandable 30.5 ton habitat (bigelow design?) and departure propulsion sytem in single launch • Half habitable volume of ISS