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 Post subject: A Kepler resurrection?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:28 am 
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Location: Lancashire
NASA is in the process of evaluating whether the defunct space observatory can be operational once again in the search for exoplanets ( using the star-transiting method ).
Two of the four wheels needed to keep Kepler stabilised on its stellar targets eventually failed to work, forcing a shutdown of the observatory.
The four reaction wheels on Kepler prevented the observatory from going into a spin due to pressure from the solar wind. The idea now is to position Kepler so that it has equal pressure of sunlight on both sides to avoid going into a spin.
The downside is that Kepler will be restricted to observing close-in planets in stellar systems, that don't require as much observational time as planets further out from their stars.
The restriction to two or three months of observing time to a particular star is due to the fact that the Sun would eventually enter the field-of-view, blinding it. More details in the current NEW SCIENTIST.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:43 am 
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Using a new statistical method applied to Kepler data, astronomers have boosted the number of exoplanets to 1,700 - with a further 3,500 candidate planets waiting to be confirmed. The total number of planets in the "Goldilocks zone" and thought to be habitable has reached nine.
"Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist at Nasa's Ames Research Centre in Moffet Field, California, said: ' Four years ago, Kepler began a string of announcements of hundreds, then thousands, of planet candidates - but they were only candidate worlds. Now we've developed a process to verify multiple planet candidates in bulk to deliver planets wholesale, and have used it to unveil a veritable bonanza of new worlds'."
Douglas Huggins, an exploration scientist at Nasa, says that the new results confirm that, " multiple planets around one star, like our solar system, are in fact common."
Jason Rowe, a research scientist at the Seti Institute, said: "The more we explore, the more we find traces of ourselves among the stars." ( Today's "i" ).

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