NASA AWARDS CONTRACT FOR SECOND PHASE KEPLER MISSION DEVELOPMENT

NASA AWARDS CONTRACT FOR SECOND PHASE KEPLER MISSION DEVELOPMENT

Donald Savage

NASA awarded a contract today, with a potential value

of $28.4 million, to Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp.

(BATC), Boulder, Colo. for development of the optics and

detectors for a high-tech camera for the Kepler planet-

finding spacecraft, scheduled for launch in 2007.

Eastman Kodak will provide the entire optical subsystem for

the spacecraft, a contract valued at $4.5 million for a

two-year period. Kodak is providing a unique optical

subsystem for Kepler. Nothing similar has ever been flown

in space. The two-piece system enables an extremely wide

field of view, allowing Kepler to continuously gaze at more

than 100,000 stars at the same time.

Other major subcontractors are Semiconductor Technology

Associates in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., and EV2 of

Elmsford, N.Y., who are providing detectors for Kepler.

The Kepler Mission differs from previous ways of looking

for planets, which have led to the discovery of about 100

giant Jupiter-sized planets. Kepler will look for the

“transit” signature that occurs each time a planet crosses

the line-of-sight between a planet’s parent star, the one

it orbits, and the observer. During the orbital “transit,”

the planet blocks some of the light from its parent star

resulting in periodic dimming. This periodic signature is

used to detect the planet and to determine its size and

orbit. Kepler will be able to determine if any Earth-sized

planets make a transit across any of the stars.

“With its cutting-edge capability, Kepler may help us

answer one of the most enduring questions humans have asked

throughout history: ‘are there other planets like Earth in

the universe?'” said principal investigator William Borucki

of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.,

leader of the mission.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages

the Kepler project for the Office of Space Science,

Washington. NASA’s Ames Research Center, Mountain View,

Calif., contracts with BATC for the Kepler photometer.

Details about the Kepler Mission are available at:

http://www.kepler.arc.nasa.gov

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