Friday, April 3, 2015

K2 Mission Now in Its Fourth Campaign

From Feb. 7 to April 24, the fourth campaign of the K2 mission will include observations of nearly 16,000 target stars and two notable open star clusters—Pleiades and Hyades. Image Credit: NASA Ames and SETI Institute/F Mullally

Now in its fourth observing campaign, the Kepler spacecraft continues to operate wonderfully since beginning its new K2 mission in May 2014. Data collected for Campaigns 0, 1 and 2 have been made available to the public through the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST). Campaign 3 data will be processed with a scheduled delivery to MAST in June 2015.

K2 began its fourth campaign on Feb. 8. The Campaign 4 target set includes nearly 16,000 target stars, which can be searched for exoplanets and examined for an array of astrophysical phenomena. This field includes two notable open star clusters—Pleiades and Hyades, the nearest open cluster to our solar system. Both are located in the constellation of Taurus.

As expected, the team continues to make improvements in the spacecraft’s K2 operations, improving the pointing performance, conserving fuel, extending the observation periods and increasing the number of observed targets. The team currently estimates that the onboard fuel should last until at least December 2017.

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

While data collection has concluded for the prime Kepler mission, the team continues to analyze the full four years of Kepler data. To-date the Kepler team, together with the global science community, has identified more than 4,000 candidates and verified 1,023 as exoplanets, planets that orbit other stars. For the latest Kepler exoplanet and candidate statistics, visit the NASA Exoplanet Archive.

Credit: NASA

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