Science Processing Support for NASA Discovery Program's Kepler Mission
In December 2001, Kepler became the 10th mission selected for flight by NASA’s Discovery Program, and the first such oriented to achieve goals under NASA’s Origins theme. The Kepler Mission seeks to determine the prevalence of Earth-size and larger planets orbiting solar-like stars in the solar neighborhood, and to characterize the stellar properties favoring the development of planetary systems. It achieves this goal through transit photometry by monitoring >100,000 main-sequence stars continuously and simultaneously for at least 3 1/2 years, to detect signatures of transiting planets in the flux time series of their host stars. The Kepler Mission successfully completed launch and commissioning phases in 2009 and is now in normal science operations. We seek to support the operation and evolution of the signal processing chain for the Kepler Mission throughout the entire lifecycle of the mission that ends in November 2013. The proposed work spans the full range of science processing from data collection on the spacecraft to publication of confirmed results.