Dr. Jon Jenkins

December 21, 2006

“Science and Technology Support for NASA Discovery Program’s Kepler  Mission”


In December 2001, the Kepler Mission became the 10th spaceprobe selected for flight by NASA’s Discovery Program, and the first such mission set to achieve goals under NASA’s Origins theme. Kepler seeks to determine the prevalence of Earth-sized and larger planets orbiting solar-like stars in the solar neighborhood, and to characterize the stellar properties favoring the development of planetary systems. It achieves this goal through transit photometry by monitoring >100,000 main-sequence stars continuously and simultaneously for at least 4 years, to detect signatures of transiting planets in the flux time series of their host stars. This project seeks to support the development of the Kepler flight and ground segments through a diverse set of research efforts. These include: 1) developing planning and requirements documents for the Science Operations Center (SOC) such as the Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document (ATBD) and the Science Pipeline Processing Scenario; 2) supporting development, implementation, and testing of science analysis modules for the SOC Pipeline; 3) conducting trade studies involving simulation and analysis to enable the Kepler Project to make informed design and development decisions; and 4) supporting observations with the Vulcan Camera as a means of providing test bed data for the SOC Pipeline.