Tag Archives: exoplants

Kepler reborn

Kepler detects its first exoplanet after its mission was reshaped because of the failure of two of its four gyros.

The newfound planet, HIP 116454b, has a diameter of 20,000 miles, two and a half times the size of Earth. HARPS-N showed that it weighs almost 12 times as much as Earth. This makes HIP 116454b a super-Earth, a class of planets that doesn’t exist in our solar system. The average density suggests that this planet is either a water world (composed of about three-fourths water and one-fourth rock) or a mini-Neptune with an extended, gaseous atmosphere.

This close-in planet circles its star once every 9.1 days at a distance of 8.4 million miles. Its host star is a type K orange dwarf slightly smaller and cooler than our sun. The system is 180 light-years from Earth in the constellation Pisces.

Even more cool, the detection took place during Kepler’s first test run in its new configuration. This bodes well for the space telescope’s ability to make future discoveries.

NASA has approved a new mission for the crippled Kepler space telescope, allowing observations to continue for another two years.

Like a phoenix: NASA has officially approved the new mission for the crippled Kepler space telescope, allowing observations to continue for another two years.

During the K2 mission, Kepler will stare at target fields in the plane of Earth’s orbit, known as the ecliptic, during observing campaigns that last about 75 days each. In this orientation, solar radiation pressure can help balance the spacecraft, making the most of Kepler’s compromised pointing ability, team members said.

Hopefully the application of clever engineering will allow scientists to get data good enough to spot some more exoplanets.

Another thousand exoplanets from Kepler

Kepler today released an updated catalog of candidate exoplanets observed during the space telescope’s first sixteen months of observations. In this release, they list more than a thousand new exoplanet candidates, almost two hundred of which are Earth-sized. Among the new exoplanet candidates, twenty-five are in the habitable zone!

Now for some details.
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