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The Kepler Mission began its science observations just over two years ago on May 12, 2009, initiating NASA’s first search for Earth-like planets. Initial results and light curves from Kepler are simply breath-taking, including confirmation of the first unquestionable rocky planet, Kepler-10b, and Kepler-11b, a system of 6 transiting planets orbiting one Sun-like star.
Kepler released light curves for the first 120 days of observations for over 150,000 target stars on February 2, 2011, and announced the identification of over 1235 planetary candidates, including 68 candidates smaller than 1.25 Earth radii, and 54 candidates in or near the habitable zone of their parent star. An astounding 408 candidates orbiting 170 stars as planetary systems were found. Dr. Jenkins will discuss how much we’ve learned over the 24 months about the instrument, the planets and the stars.
Jon Jenkins is a research scientist for the SETI Institute (www.seti.org ) at NASA Ames Research Center where he conducts research on data processing and detection algorithms for discovering transiting extrasolar planets. He is the Co-Investigator for Data Analysis for NASA Discovery Program’s Kepler Mission (http://www.kepler.nasa.gov ). As the Kepler Mission Analysis Lead, Dr. Jenkins is responsible for developing algorithms for the Kepler Science Operations Center science pipeline and leads the team of scientific programmers who are implementing the software for the science pipeline. In 2010 Dr. Jenkins received NASA’s Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal for his numerous technical achievements throughout development, commissioning and operational phases, which have been critical to the success of Kepler.
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