The Kepler Mission is a space-based mission whose primary goal is to detect Earth-size and smaller planets in the habitable zone of solar-like stars. The mission will monitor more than 100,000 stars for transits with a differential photometric precision of 20 ppm at V=12 for a 6.5 hour transit. It will also provide asteroseismic results on several thousand dwarf stars. It is specifically designed to continuously observe a single field of view of greater than 100 square degrees for 3.5 or more years.
This overview describes the mission design, its goals and capabilities, the measured performance for those photometer components that have now been tested, the Kepler Input Catalog, an overview of the analysis pipeline, the plans for the Follow-up Observing Program to validate the detections and characterize the parent stars, and finally, the plans for the Guest Observer and Astrophysical Data Program.
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