Kepler-16: Exoplanets around binary star systems DO exist

Kepler-16 is another great discovery coming from the Kepler telescope, the 10th NASA Discovery mission which is devoted to finding Earth-size exoplanets by monitoring variations of brightness due to transit. Today the Kepler team found a circumbinary exoplanet, an exoplanet orbiting a binary star system. Did they find Tatooine?

Artistic view of the Kepler-16(AB)b exoplanet (a Saturn-like exoplanet) in orbit around its 2 stars shown in the background.
Artistic view of the Kepler-16(AB)b exoplanet (a Saturn-like exoplanet) in orbit around its 2 stars shown in the background.

Kepler-10b – The first unambiguous rocky exoplanet

It is done. The Kepler team finally announced the discovery of its first terrestrial exoplanet. A referred journal, accepted in the Astrophysical journal (here) by Natalie Batalha and a large number of colleagues, describes this new member of the exoplanet family. This is the 519th known exoplanet based on the Extra-solar Planets Catalog, but definitely a special one.

Five exoplanets discovered by Kepler – a discussion and a movie

I mentioned on this blog on several occasions (see “the first light“) the Kepler mission which aims at detecting exoplanets through the transit method (a.k.a the small attenuation of light due to the passage of the exoplanet between us and the host star). Last week, during the AAS  (say “double ‘A’ ‘S'”) conference, the Kepler team announced the discovery of the first 5 exoplanets.

Some news of the planet Mercury from the AGU Fall conference

Fifteen days ago, I wrote a short post on this blog to let you know that I was flying to Cleveland, OH to meet colleagues interesting in space mission design. Without realizing it, this project has been taking over all my time and my energy (including nights of work and thinking) and produced a roller-coaster of excellent and bad news. Because it is still uncertain what exactly it is going to happen I will not mention it today, but I will keep you posted as soon I see the light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂 Today I will focus my post on a very positive note which is the session Mercury and the Messenger mission that I attended at the AGU Fall conference.

An update about the LCROSS mission

Last June, I mentioned the LCROSS mission which was aimed at impacting the surface of the Moon. 113 days after its journey, this event indeed happened on October 9 2009. At 04:31 UT the Centaur upper stage rocket  hit the surface, followed by LCROSS itself at 04:39 UT.  It was recorded by several telescopes located at Hawaii and in the US (where it was visible) and by another NASA spacecraft called Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in orbit around the moon.