PIA18904: Reborn Kepler Discovers First K2 Exoplanet (Artist Concept)
 Mission:  Kepler
 Product Size:  3000 x 2400 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  IPAC-Caltech
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA18904.tif (21.61 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA18904.jpg (1.297 MB)

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This artist concept shows NASA's planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft operating in a new mission profile called K2. In May, the spacecraft began its new mission observing in the ecliptic plane, the orbital path of Earth around the sun, depicted by the grey-blue line marked by opaque cross-like shapes. Each shape represents the field-of-view of an observing campaign.

Using publicly available data collected by the spacecraft in February during the performance concept test to prove K2 would work, astronomers confirmed the first exoplanet detected by the K2 mission. The newly confirmed planet, HIP 116454b, is two-and-a-half times the diameter of Earth, and closely orbits a star smaller and cooler than our sun once every nine days, making the planet too hot for life as we know it. The star and planet are 180 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Pisces.

NASA Ames manages Kepler's ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with JPL at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA's 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

More information about the Kepler mission is at http://www.nasa.gov/kepler.

More information about exoplanets and NASA's planet-finding program is at http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov.

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