Posts Tagged ‘ Natalie Batalha ’

HAT-p-7b and the Grail quest – With Jon Jenkins

jenkins_jon_3_enh11I went to bed the evening of May 13th exhausted from the long, intense campaign of commissioning the Kepler spacecraft. The long march started about a week after launch when we began to receive data from the photometer and needed to process it to verify that it was behaving as we expected and to prepare all the data products needed for nominal science operations. These included taking very special data sets to characterize the 2D bias frame of the CCDs (the image you get with no light falling on the detectors), the noise characteristics, the sky to pixel mapping, the science data compression tables, and the detailed shape of the stellar images (the Point Spread Functions) across the focal plane. We had been calculating the PSFs and getting our first science target tables together while the Combined Differential Photometric Precision (CDPP) data set was being collected during the last ten days of Commissioning. This was the first science-like data to be collected. So we had a target table in place with 52,496 targets and were compressing the 30-minute samples for each pixel of interest and storing these on board the Solid State Recorder. (During nominal science operations we collect pixel data for ~145,000 stars.) On Monday May 11 we turned the spacecraft to point the High Gain Antenna to Earth and downlinked the CDPP data set, all ten days of it, to the Deep Space Network, who transferred it through our Ground System* to the Science Operations Center at NASA Ames Research Center where we process the pixels, extract the photometric light curves and search for transiting planets. Nominal science operations commenced on May 12 and we could turn our attention to processing the CDPP data.

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HAT-p-7b confirmation and many great things to come – With Natalie Batalha


August 5, 2009 

Exactly five months after the launch of the Kepler spacecraft, NASA will hold a press conference to present early science results.  Early science results.  I linger over those words with great pleasure.  It isn’t sufficient to simply write about the science or even comment on the mood of the science team at Ames during the days when they examined that first data transmittal.  I must rewind a bit, for there is a story here to be told.  

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Kepler Mission – Mr. Danvk, you have an answer.

In the aftermath of Kepler’s first light images a question made by danvk, a BtC reader, arrived our comment box:

In the full image there are lots of white lines that are perfectly horizontal or vertical. What are these?

Natalie Batalha, Kepler Co-Investigator, gives us a solution for the enigma:

The white streaks are CCD artifacts associated with the saturation that occurs with the very brightest stars in the field.  CCDs are constructed by putting very tiny electronic circuitry on top of a wafer of silicon.  When light strikes the silicon surface, the photons knock electrons loose.  These (negatively charged) electrons are attracted to tiny electrodes in the circuitry because they have a positive voltage applied to them.  The electrodes themselves define individual pixels.  A very bright star will liberate so many electrons that they pile up and literally spill over to the adjacent pixel (electrode).  They spill in the direction of least resistance and that happens to be in the direction that the electrodes are chained together (up and down the columns in our case).  When spillover occurs, we call this “saturation.”  In the image, you see that some of the saturation bleeds are vertical while others are horizontal.  The individual ccds (the rectangles) were mosaic’d so that we could rotate the spacecraft 90 degrees each quarter (to keep the solar panels pointing at the Sun) and still have the image look the same (rotational symmetry).  If you train your eye on the gaps between the rectangles, you can see that they form a bit of a spiral pattern.  That’s the rotational symmetry pattern due to the orientation of the individual CCDs.

Kepler mission – stellar smear and a grain of salt

After yesterday’s release of Kepler’s first light images and being marvelled by the telescope’s full field of view I was here wondering how would look one of the several raw images composing that breathtaking view into a sea of stars.

And, now that we’re into the real stuff and aware that we won’t hear of an Earth-like planet until the team has full confirmation, for when, hipotetically, could we expect one of those candidates to make its first appearance? How soon can it be?

Natalie Batalha answers:

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Kepler mission – It’s full of stars!

Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Here’s what you have been waiting for, NASA Kepler’s full field of view – an expansive star-rich patch of sky in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra stretching across 100 square degrees, or the equivalent of two side-by-side dips of the Big Dipper.

And now let us stay with Jon Jenkins, Kepler’s Co-Investigator:

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Kepler’s Prima Lux – A Human Endeavor – With Natalie Batalha

Kepler’s first light also marks, for Beyond the Cradle, the arrival of a very special collaborator, someone who, I am sure, will be capable of taking us, with her passion, on great journeys towards the worlds to come. It is with great joy that I open BtC’s doors to Natalie Batalha, Kepler Co-Investigator (to know more about Natalie visit the Collaborators page):


We received word on Monday afternoon:  



The reviews conducted to ascertain readiness for the ejection of the cover on the Kepler photometer are finished. We now have permission to move the photometer axis into the ecliptic plane and eject the cover…

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Kepler Mission at Around the World in 80 Telescopes – With Natalie Batalha


Missed it? Don’t  do it again…