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The Kepler Data Processing Handbook: A Field Guide to Prospecting for Habitable Worlds

By Jon M. Jenkins


The Kepler telescope hurtled into orbit in March 2009, initiating NASA's first mission to discover Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars. Kepler simultaneously collected data for approximately 165,000 target stars at a time over its four-year mission, identifying over 4700 planet candidates, over 2300 confirmed or validated planets, and over 2100 eclipsing binaries. While Kepler was designed to discover exoplanets, the long-term, ultrahigh photometric precision measurements it achieved made it a premier observational facility for stellar astrophysics, especially in the field of asteroseismology, and for variable stars, such as RR Lyrae. The Kepler Science Operations Center (SOC) was developed at NASA Ames Research Center to process the data acquired by Kepler from pixel-level calibrations all the way to identifying transiting planet signatures and subjecting them to a suite of diagnostic tests to establish or break confidence in their planetary nature. Detecting small, rocky planets transiting Sun-like stars presents a variety of daunting challenges, including achieving an unprecedented photometric precision of ~20 ppm on 6.5-hour timescales, and supporting the science operations, management, processing, and repeated reprocessing of the accumulating data stream. A newly revised and expanded version of the Kepler Data Processing Handbook (KDPH) has been released to support the legacy archival products. The KDPH details the theory, design and performance of the algorithms supporting each data processing step. This paper presents an overview of the KDPH and features illustrations of several key algorithms in the Kepler Science Data Processing Pipeline. Kepler was selected as the 10th mission of the Discovery Program. Funding for this mission is provided by NASA, Science Mission Directorate

Topics: Numerical Analysis, Astronomy
Year: 2017
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