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Kepler Mission Manager Update

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:01 am via: NASA
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The Kepler project team completed another science data download Oct. 23, 2010. The scheduled activity was completed on time without incident. The download represented the completion of the Quarter 7 Month 1 science data collection. Another 107 gigabytes of raw data were delivered to the NASA Ames Research Center Science Operations Center for processing and analysis.

As this operation was completed, the team reflected on how well the Kepler mission is meeting one of its most important metrics, namely, data completeness. This is a measure of how successful Kepler has collected data against the available time for collection. For example, if Kepler collected data 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, without interruption, then the data completeness would be 100 percent. However, breaks are necessary to allow for scheduled and unscheduled events.

Artist's concept of Kepler in the distant solar system. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Artist's concept of Kepler in the distant solar system. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Scheduled events include breaks from science data collection to allow for data download to the NASA Deep Space Network, and periodic momentum de-saturations of Kepler’s reaction wheels. Unscheduled events include anomalies that put the spacecraft in Safe mode, and stop it from collecting science data. The Kepler project budgets for these scheduled and unscheduled events, and sets a performance goal of 92 percent (of 100 percent of total time available) for science data collection. As of this month, Kepler is exceeding the 92 percent goal.

The project recently reviewed this metric, and took a fresh look at this “data completeness” budget and reviewed any potential changes we thought might be necessary to ensure continued success. The project team believes that Kepler will continue to meet this important metric.

The Space Telescope Science Institute — STScI (www.stsci.edu) — is also keeping track of another metric – the number of archive searches on Kepler data by the public and other users. Kepler archives all of its released science data at STScI. So far, the total number of archive searches of Kepler data is over 700,000. As of today, STScI has almost 3 Terabytes of Kepler data in the archive and almost 1 million datasets.

Kepler also is generating quite a bit of interest in the asteroseismology community. It’s no surprise that a mission capable of detecting the signal of an Earth-size planet passing in front of a sun-like star is also capable of transforming the field of stellar astrophysics. On Oct. 26, 2010, members of the Kepler Asteroseismology Science Consortium (KASC) held a press conference at Aarhus University in Denmark – home of the KASC organizers – to highlight some of the more than 20 scientific papers that have been published by the consortium this year. The KASC team now contains 415 research scientists organized in 13 working groups.

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