Kepler update – with Alan Gould

I saw some doubts arouse regarding Kepler’s current activities and for when are the first observations expected, I was told some days ago by Natalie Batalha, Co-Investigator, San José State University, that the dust cover will be ejected on the 26th permitting, then, the first light to be acquired by Kepler, but someone asked me something that I couldn’t answer it…was the photometer already turned on and tested?

I’ve addressed this same question to Alan Gould who kindly shed some light over what is going on, and the answer is that Kepler is taking pretty pictures…with its cover still on…

That already happened to me, but in this case it is far from being the consequence of a photographer’s distraction…


About taking images while the cover is still on, this is a common practice well-known to amateur and professional astrophotographers. It’s it’s for determining characteristics of the CCDs — all the pixels — so that anomalies, “hot pixels,” and other operating parameters can be known and accounted for before letting “live” light in.   In other words, if one pixel is “acting up”, we want to know about it and take that into account while getting our data ongoing. It’s sometimes known as shooting calibration frames: “dark frames” to remove the thermal signal in each image and “flat-field” frames to correct for vignetting and un-even field illumination, overall to characterize pixels’ behaviors with no light.


Mission manager updates will appear as available at 


Alan has launched an enticing question in his latest piece at BtC 

Underlying all this is the pervasive theme: if all goes well we will soon collect REAL data that can help us begin to answer that age old question: are there other planets like Earth and if so, how common might they be? 

I’ve asked Alan that, if this was a question of faith…what does he personally believe that Kepler will retrieve us? 

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the odds that we will find at least a few dozen Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of their stars. There may be quite a few more “super-Earths” found (up to twice the diameter of Earth).


That’s it for today, 27º predicted for today, a Saturday…time to go out, here’s a challenge for you…can you guess where will I be if I tell that it was the place from where Henry the Navigator governed the Order that made the Discoveries possible?…

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