Kepler: the first data, and hundreds of possible new planets

Remember Kepler? It’s the space probe with a mission to locate planets that are similar to our own (which are our best bet to start looking for life, or at least life we’d recognise). It launched in March 2009, and started looking in June of that year.

NASA has been collecting, reviewing, and categorising that data. Today they’ve released the first bit of it.

Here’s a summary from Dynamics of Cats: check that out for links to more detail.

306 new candidate exoplanets, with 5 multiple transiting systems – ie stars with more than one planet transiting them.

The really interesting systems though are the 400 objects that the Kepler team got permission to withhold, and the data on which will be released later.

Statistically 100+ of those ought to be real planets, and probably the most interesting of all the exoplanets they found.

Kepler: lookin’ good

Cluster of stars in Keplers sight

Cluster of stars in Kepler’s sight

Remember Kepler? It’s NASA’s mission to look for planets that we believe might be candidates for sustaining life. It launched in March. In mid-May all of the checks and calibrations were done and it started looking in earnest.

So far the satellite is operating well and the data it’s collecting are, apparently, very good:

The data are of very high quality and the scientists are very pleased with the precision of the data. Hundreds of eclipsing binaries and variable stars were seen in this data.

Kepler updates

Remember Kepler, the NASA project that will search for Earth-like planets that might sustain life? You can read updates on its progress here. They’re calibrating the photometer at the time I write this.

Hi! I should be back from my Australian vacation sometime today. I’ll be blogging again in real time real soon.