Friday, January 8, 2016

Successes of the K2 Mission Profiled

In the second phase of its life as a planet hunter, NASA’s Kepler spacecraft is raking in exoplanet discoveries that are surprisingly different from those found during its first iteration.

Between 2009 and 2013, Kepler became the most successful planet-hunting machine ever, discovering at least 1,030 planets and more than 4,600 possible others in a single patch of sky. When a mechanical failure stripped the spacecraft of its ability to point precisely among the stars, engineers reinvented it in 2014 as the K2 mission, which looks at different parts of the cosmos for shorter periods of time.

In its first year of observing, K2 has netted more than 100 confirmed exoplanets, says astronomer Ian Crossfield at the University of Arizona in Tucson. They include a surprising number of systems in which more than one planet orbits the same star. The K2 planets are also orbiting hotter stars than are many of the Kepler discoveries.

“This is really showing the power and potential of K2,” says Crossfield. “These are things we never found with four years of Kepler data.” He and other scientists reported the findings this week at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Kissimmee, Florida.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.