Kepler • Missions & Center • Operational
The Kepler satellite, launched on 06 March 2009, is a NASA mission that uses high-precision photometry to search for transiting exoplanets around main sequence stars. Kepler is NASA's first mission capable of detecting earth-like planets and its primary mission is to determine the frequency of earth-sized planets around other stars.
In May 2009, Kepler began its survey of 170,000 stars for earth-sized planets; the photometric transit survey has a nominal mission lifetime of 3.5 years with a possible extension for another 2 years.
The scientific objective of the Kepler Mission is to explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems. This is achieved by surveying a large sample of stars to:
- Determine the abundance of terrestrial and larger planets in or near the habitable zone of a wide variety of stars;
- Determine the distribution of sizes and shapes of the orbits of these planets;
- Estimate how many planets there are in multiple-star systems;
- Determine the variety of orbit sizes and planet reflectivities, sizes, masses and densities of short-period giant planets;
- Identify additional members of each discovered planetary system using other techniques; and
- Determine the properties of those stars that harbor planetary systems.
Within IPAC, NExScI developed, hosts and operates the Kepler Science Analysis System (KSAS) - the software system used by the Kepler Science Team to collect all mission and follow-up data on planet candidates, manage the follow-up observing and produce mission results catalogs.
The NASA Exoplanet Archive at IPAC provides access to a Kepler Target Selection Catalog for users to prepare an observing target list suitable for the Kepler Guest Observer Program, and a periodogram service for public Kepler light curves.