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SlyCoopersButt SlyCoopersButt is offline
Post Kepler: Mission news & launch thread
by SlyCoopersButt 03-03-2009, 09:38 AM

About coming to that day! They have concluded a review to evaluate similarities between the Delta II and Taurus fairing systems and Kepler is currently green for launch March 6th 10:49 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral's pad 17B. The mission is now just a little over 3 days from scheduled launch.

Kepler is NASA's first mission designed for seeking out Earth size and smaller planets. Quite excited to see this mission about to launch! This one has me more excited than usual when it comes to what we may learn! Good luck to the team and go Kepler!


The Transit Method of Detecting Extrasolar Planets:
When a planet passes in front of a star as viewed from Earth, the event is called a “transit”. On Earth, we can observe an occasional Venus or Mercury transit. These events are seen as a small black dot creeping across the Sun—Venus or Mercury blocks sunlight as the planet moves between the Sun and us. Kepler finds planets by looking for tiny dips in the brightness of a star when a planet crosses in front of it—we say the planet transits the star.

Once detected, the planet's orbital size can be calculated from the period (how long it takes the planet to orbit once around the star) and the mass of the star using Kepler's Third Law of planetary motion. The size of the planet is found from the depth of the transit (how much the brightness of the star drops) and the size of the star. From the orbital size and the temperature of the star, the planet's characteristic temperature can be calculated. From this the question of whether or not the planet is habitable (not necessarily inhabited) can be answered

Kepler instrument:
The Kepler instrument is a specially designed 0.95-meter diameter telescope called a photometer or light meter. It has a very large field of view for an astronomical telescope — 105 square degrees, which is comparable to the area of your hand held at arm's length. It needs that large a field in order to observe the necessary large number of stars. It stares at the same star field for the entire mission and continuously and simultaneously monitors the brightnesses of more than 100,000 stars for the life of the mission—3.5 or more years.

The photometer must be spacebased to obtain the photometric precision needed to reliably see an Earth-like transit and to avoid interruptions caused by day-night cycles, seasonal cycles and atmospheric perturbations, such as, extinction associated with ground-based observing.

Kepler Scientific Objectives:
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 percentage of terrestrial and larger planets that are 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
Determine the properties of those stars that harbor planetary systems.

Target Field of View:
Since transits only last a fraction of a day, all the stars must be monitored continuously, that is, their brightnesses must be measured at least once every few hours. The ability to continuously view the stars being monitored dictates that the field of view (FOV) must never be blocked at any time during the year. Therefore, to avoid the Sun the FOV must be out of the ecliptic plane. The secondary requirement is that the FOV have the largest possible number of stars. This leads to the selection of a region in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations of our Galaxy as shown.

(Qoutes, Courtesy nasa)

Image of Kepler's targeted star field (Courtesy nasa)

For detailed info on Kepler visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ke...ain/index.html

PDF mission fact sheet: http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/284769main_F...1208_print.pdf

United Launch Alliance http://www.ulalaunch.com/index.html

For detailed up to date news visit: http://spaceflightnow.com/

Last edited by SlyCoopersButt; 03-03-2009 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:33 PM   #2
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Looking forward to it! Is there any flight profile graph? The instrument is going to take position in a Lagrange point, right?
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:57 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SiberianTiger View Post
 The instrument is going to take position in a Lagrange point, right?
No. Earth trailing heliocentric orbit.

From stationary ecliptic frame:

From Sun-Earth rotating frame:

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Old 03-06-2009, 10:00 PM   #4

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Old 03-06-2009, 10:35 PM   #5
Orbinaut Pete
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The DeltaII rocket carrying Kepler is now visible at LC17 via these live video feeds:

Last edited by Orbinaut Pete; 03-06-2009 at 11:28 PM.
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:05 AM   #6

Re-run of the pre-launch press conference on NasaTV right now. Well worth watching.

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Old 03-07-2009, 12:28 AM   #7

Very informative briefing. They've compiled just about everything there is you'd want to know. Launch coverage is currently scheduled for 8:30 pm ET.

8:30, Live launch coverage now on the air. No issues reported.

Last edited by SlyCoopersButt; 03-07-2009 at 01:32 AM.
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Old 03-07-2009, 01:33 AM   #8
Orbinaut Pete
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Let's hope Kepler has better luck than OCO...


And DeltaII first stage fuelling has begun.
Latest weather report = 95% chance of an on schedule launch.


Launch blog:


Now T- 2h 12m until launch....
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Old 03-07-2009, 01:56 AM   #9
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Default T- 90m

GO for LOX loading of the first stage
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Old 03-07-2009, 02:54 AM   #10
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I am SO happy I'm at my parent's place where we have the NASA channel.
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Old 03-07-2009, 03:06 AM   #11

I notice a lot less feed delay when viewing NASA TV through RealPlayer instead of Windows media player. Less than 1 or 3 seconds delay usually. So for those near launch sites it may be much more preferable.
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Old 03-07-2009, 03:29 AM   #12
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Delay mostly depends on your local buffer. Every good player allows you to adjust it.
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Old 03-07-2009, 03:35 AM   #13

Interesting, I'll look into that. I got used to RealPlayer mostly due to that. Looking good now, About 14 minutes to go! Good luck Kepler & team!
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Old 03-07-2009, 03:36 AM   #14
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T-5 minutes...weather's go.
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Old 03-07-2009, 03:43 AM   #15
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Exdcellent. i've just got back from a night of dancing, have inserted the girlfriend into bed and now I can chill out with a launch whislt I sober up enough to go to sleep.

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