Revived Kepler mission bags three planet candidates

The Kepler space telescope, seen in an artist’s illustration, has already identified three potential exoplanets during its revived mission, which began in late May.

Guest post by Christopher Crockett

BOSTON — The revived Kepler mission, called K2, is wasting no time. During a nine-day engineering test, the not-quite-dead planet-hunting telescope turned up three potential Jupiter-sized planets orbiting other stars. Tom Barclay, a Kepler scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, presented the preliminary results June 3 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston

These planets orbit bright stars, which means astronomers can easily check the detections with ground-based telescopes. The follow-up observations will be able to measure how hard the stars get yanked around by the gravity of their planets, which is the only way researchers can measure the masses of the distant worlds.

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