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The Kepler Mission: A Mission to Determine the Frequency of Inner Planets Neat the Habitable Zone of a Wide Range of StarsThe surprising discovery of giant planets in inner orbits around solar-like stars has brought into question our understanding of the development and evolution of planetary systems, including our solar system. To make further progress, it is critical to detect and obtain data on the frequency and characteristics of Earth-class planets. The Kepler Mission is designed to be a quick, low-cost approach to accomplish that objective. Transits by Earth-class planets produce a fractional change in stellar brightness of 5 x 10(exp -5) to 40 x 10(exp -5) lasting for 4 to 16 hours, From the period and depth of the transits, the orbit and size of the planets can be calculated. The proposed instrument is a one-meter aperture photometer with a 12 deg field-of-view (FOV). To obtain the required precision and to avoid interruptions caused by day-night and seasonal cycles, the photometer will be launched into a heliocentric orbit. It will continuously and simultaneously monitor the flux from 80,000 dwarf stars brighter than 14th magnitude in the Cygnus constellation. The mission tests the hypothesis that the formation of most stars produces Earth-class planets in inner orbits. Based on this assumption and the recent observations that 2% of the stars have giant planets in inner orbits, several types of results are expected from the mission: 1. From transits of Earth-class planets, about 480 planet detections and 60 cases where two or more planets are found in the same system. 2. From transits of giant planets, about 160 detections of inner-orbit planets and 24 detections of outer-orbit planets. 3. From the phase modulation of the reflected light from giant planets, about 1400 planet detections with periods less than a week, albedos for 160 of these giant planets, and densities for seven planets.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Borucki, W. J. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Koch, D. G. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Dunham, E. W. (Lowell Observatory Flagstaff, AZ United States)
Jenkins, J. M. (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Inst. Mountain View, CA United States)
Young, Richard E.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1997
Subject Category
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 186-06-01-04
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.