Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomer to Study Stars with Data from NASA’s Kepler Mission

11.02.2009
NASA’s Kepler Mission will be the first attempt to look for earth-like planets in our part of the Milky Way. It will also be the first chance for astronomers such as Steve Kawaler to get a much closer look at the stars they study.

Kawaler, an Iowa State University professor of physics and astronomy, plans to celebrate the new research program by witnessing the mission’s launch in early March (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration says the mission is currently scheduled to launch on March 5) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The mission has a lot for astronomers to get excited about.

Looking for planets that could support life was “the stuff that got me interested in astronomy when I was a kid,” Kawaler said.

And he said the mission’s space telescope will do a lot to advance his research of stars and their interiors.

“We’ve been doing this work the hard way – from the earth, which is a spinning platform,” Kawaler said.

To overcome the Earth’s rotation, a research collaboration called the Whole Earth Telescope was established in 1986 to coordinate star observations and share data. Kawaler, who has served as director of the project, said even a whole-earth collaboration has significant limits.

Weather can get in the way of observations and data collection. No two telescopes are exactly the same and so produce subtly different data sets. Ground measurements can’t be as precise as measurements from space. And funding hasn’t been available to do observations for more than a few weeks at a time.

“Kepler will do this the right way,” Kawaler said. “Kepler will give us a huge amount of data. About 170,000 stars will be observed every half hour, continuously, for three and a half years or more.”

The Kepler mission will launch a CCD photometer (the equivalent of a 95 megapixel camera) into space. The instrument will use an aperture that’s nearly one meter in diameter to collect data about the Cygnus-Lyra region of the galaxy. Its primary job is to find any variations in the brightness of the stars within its view.

Tiny dips in brightness can signal a planet passing in front of its star. Scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California will lead a team studying those planetary transits. Data from the transits can reveal the planet’s size, orbit and temperature. That will allow researchers to find earth-sized planets that orbit within the habitable zone of their stars.

Another team of researchers – the Kepler Asteroseismic Science Consortium – will use the same data to study the internal structure of stars. The consortium is led by Jorgen Christensen-Dalsgaard and Hans Kjeldsen of Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark, and Kawaler serves on the project’s 12-member steering committee.

The consortium will study how the spheres of gas that make up stars oscillate and change brightness. Studies of those star quakes can answer questions about the interior properties of stars such as their density, temperature and composition. It’s similar to how geologists study earthquakes to learn about the Earth’s interior.

Consortium scientists will also use the data to measure the exact sizes of stars with earth-like planets.

The scientists should begin seeing new data about 90 days after Kepler’s launch.

Kawaler is looking forward to seeing where the new information takes researchers.

“Fifteen years ago we knew of one planetary system,” he said. “Now we know of 300-plus, but only one Earth. This is our chance to find dozens of other Earths.”

Steve Kawaler | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht When fluid flows almost as fast as light -- with quantum rotation
22.06.2018 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

nachricht Thermal Radiation from Tiny Particles
22.06.2018 | Universität Greifswald

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>