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Kepler K2 Campaign 3 underway

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Posted December 17, 2014

Kepler and K2 have kept the team very busy over the past couple of months, and we are overdue on providing an update on the great work that’s been going on. The spacecraft continues to perform superbly in its two-wheel configuration and is actively collecting data for the K2 mission, while the team has continued to tune the operations to improve the science yield. Meanwhile, we continue analyzing the full four years of Kepler data and delivering the new K2 data to the public at the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST).

Comet Siding Spring passes through K2's Field-of-View. Image Credit: NASA Ames/W Stenzel; SETI Institute/D Caldwell

Comet Siding Spring passes through K2’s Field-of-View. Image Credit: NASA Ames/W Stenzel; SETI Institute/D Caldwell

K2 is now in its seventh month of operation and began its third campaign on Nov. 12. The Campaign 3 field-of-view includes more than 16,000 target stars, which can be searched for exoplanets and examined for an array of astrophysical information. This campaign also includes observations of a number of objects within our own solar system, including the dwarf planet (225088) 2007 OR10, the largest known body without a name in the solar system, and the planet Neptune and its moon Nereid.

Campaign 0 data have been delivered to MAST, and Campaign 1 data will follow later this month. Campaign 2 will be processed with a scheduled delivery in February 2015.

Target proposals for Campaigns 6 and 7 are now being accepted. The deadline for K2 Cycle-2 Stage-1 Guest Observer proposals is 11:59 p.m. EST on Jan. 16, 2015. For the full schedule of operational milestones see the K2 Mission Timeline.

On Oct. 20, the Kepler spacecraft joined the fleet of NASA science assets that observed distant Oort Cloud native Comet Siding Spring as it passed through K2’s Campaign 2 field-of-view on its long journey around the sun. The data collected by K2 will add to the study of the comet, giving scientists an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the materials, including water and carbon compounds, that existed during the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

To learn more about the K2 mission visit the Kepler Science Center website.

While K2 operations proceed, the Kepler team continues work on finalizing the data processing and products for the prime mission. The team is also anticipating another mission milestone: the 1,000th exoplanet discovered by Kepler.

To-date Kepler has identified more than 4,000 planet candidates, and 996 have been verified as bona fide planets. For the latest Kepler exoplanet and candidate statistics, visit the NASA Exoplanet Archive.

In January 2015, members of the team will participate in the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle. We look forward to the meeting and sharing the latest scientific results using Kepler and K2 data.

The following are highlights of recent research using Kepler and K2 data that have been accepted by a peer-review journal:

Source: NASA

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