15 January 2014

Opportunity for Observations with K2: A New Mission for the Kepler Spacecraft

Steve Howell NASA Ames Research Center

The K2 mission is a concept being proposed to NASA through the 2014 Senior Review process that seeks to repurpose the NASA Kepler spacecraft. K2 will expand on Kepler’s groundbreaking discoveries in the field of exoplanets and astrophysics by observing many new target types in a wide variety of new fields. The K2 mission is currently soliciting comments on the fields that K2 will observe during its first two years and is soliciting target proposals for a performance demonstration test starting in March 2014.

This initial test, known as “Campaign 0,” has the possibility of collecting ~75 days of science data for 5,000 to 10,000 targets. We are asking the community to propose the targets to observe during this campaign. The deadline for target proposals and comments on the subsequent fields is 1 February 2014. For additional information on K2, how to propose, and how to comment on the proposed K2 fields, visit the K2 mission webpage.      

K2 is limited to pointing near the ecliptic plane, sequentially observing fields as it orbits the Sun. This observing strategy regularly brings new target fields into view, enabling observations of scientifically important objects across a wide range of galactic latitudes in both the northern and southern skies. K2 will perform a series of 80-day ecliptic-pointed campaigns to collect data for the astrophysical community bearing on planet-formation processes, young stars, stellar activity, stellar structure and evolution, and extragalactic science. With an estimated photometric performance of 80 ppm (6-hour S/N for a 12th-magnitude G star), the K2 mission offers simultaneous observations of approximately 10,000 objects with a combination of precision, cadence, and continuity that cannot be achieved from the ground.